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Agriculture and Mining

Why Philippines lags behind neighbors in agriculture, land reform

September 17, 2012 3:19pm
It is no secret that the Philippines had turned into a laggard in terms of agriculture output and land reform, a respected financial executive on Monday told fiscal and monetary officials of the Aquino administration.
Washington SyCip,  founder of the financial auditing company SyCip Gorres and Velayo, cited the case of Thailand.
Filipinos used to teach Thais agricultural practices, but Thailand overtook the Philippines in agriculture, SyCip noted during the open forum of the Philippine Economic Briefing at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
"Now, Thailand – [despite], all our graduates in Los Baños – are so far ahead of us in agriculture. They used to grow no sugar. Now we are growing 2 million tons. They are growing 4 million tons," SyCip claimed.
World War II veteran SyCip said the post-war administration assured the country, "being a democracy and a Christian nation, that we would be second fastest growing nation next to Japan."
Sycip then asked the economic team: "Why are we now behind Indonesia?"
While Philippine officials have been boasting of second quarter 5.9 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP), National Economic and Development Authority data showed Indonesia grew 6.4 percent and China by 7.8 percent in the same period.
SyCip also questioned the status of Philippine land reform, comparing it to Japan and Taiwan, where land reform was a success.
Without repudiating SyCip’s claims, Agriculture Undersecretary Joel Rudinas said the country needs to boost investments in agriculture.
"We have the skills and technical capability but over the years there has been a dent in investments for critical infrastructures," the Argiculture official said in response of SyCip.
Rudinas said government expects the agriculture sector to grow 3.5 to 4 percent this year. "We see this momentum to move well into the future for the next two and a half years," he added.
Overall, the Philippines may have been overtaken by its Asian neighbors because of its "low growth in over-all productivity," which has been "either near or slightly negative." since the 1990s, said Socioeconomic planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan noted.
"One of the problems of our economy then and until now is the very low growth in over-all productivity… perhaps, more importantly than in agriculture," Balisacan told reporters at the sidelines of the briefing.
He said a country is deemed really productive when it produces more output from less input. "In our case, we were not able to increase the level of outputs for its unit of input like labor and land or a combination of the two," Balisacan noted.
Thus, "we were not able to generate sources of income for farmers," he added. — VS, GMA News
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