Honorable Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan
2013 Dioscoro L. Umali Achievement Award
in Agricultural Development Conferment and Lecture
16 January 2014
New World Hotel, Makati, Philippines
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Let me first congratulate the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Studies and Research in Agriculture or SEARCA, the Philippines’ National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), and the Dioscoro L. Umali Foundation, Inc. (DLUF) for honoring the legacy of this great scientist, Dr. Dioscoro L. Umali, through this prestigious D.L. Umali Achievement Award. Their continued effort to search for and recognize distinguished individuals who have devoted a good portion of their professional career for the upliftment of the welfare of small farmers is a recognition of the impact of Dr. Umali’s work not only within the confines of the institutions with which he was affiliated but also on the countries in the ASEAN region and their agricultural economies as a whole.
Small farmers continue to be the backbone of the agriculture and rural sector, where many of the poor are found. We are aware that recent economic growth, at least in the Philippines, has yet to be felt by many of the poor, particularly small farmers. This is why the strategies to achieve inclusive growth under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP): 2011-2016 have been fine-tuned to integrate sectoral and spatial dimensions so that we can provide greater support for small farmers in the rural areas. As in the case of other countries, including Indonesia, we need to improve the ability of small farmers to increase production so they can expand markets, take advantage of growth opportunities, and thus increase their incomes.
Indeed, the Agriculture and Fisheries sector remains critically important especially in developing countries because it continues to employ the bulk of the labor force and it is where majority of the poor and marginal households are found. Unleashing the potentials of the sector to contribute to growth would mean empowering the marginal and poor producers (farmers and fisherfolks alike) to increasingly become active market players. This will need concerted effort not only among government agencies but also the private sector and individual development practitioners to develop measures that enhance the sector’s competitiveness, profitability and linkages with other economic sectors, especially with manufacturing.
As we carry out these measures and strategies that will transform agriculture into a modern, competitive and sustainable sector, it is but fitting to salute people whose work and achievements are the foundations of these changes and innovations. The DL Umali Award underscores the importance of recognizing such great works of exemplary individuals that improve the quality of lives of people especially the farmers. It serves as an inspiration to young scientists who I now challenge to pursue their dream not only for their own personal advancement but for the benefit of the many.
Before I end this opening remarks, I would like to congratulate Dr. Sjarifudin Baharsjah. I salute you for your achievements which serve as a catalyst for change and development in agriculture. Your effort in increasing productivity in the rice sector sings aloud the mantra of greater food security, poverty reduction and inclusive growth from greater farm incomes in rice. Your work has indeed set a higher benchmark that Indonesia is proud of and from which the whole region is benefitting.
I thank the organizers of this event for giving me this opportunity to personally congratulate and thank Dr. Baharsjah.
To everyone, thank you and a pleasant day to all.