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Food security strategy to consider imports a ‘last resort’ measure

THE food security strategy for 2021 will involve addressing local shortages and surpluses by transporting commodities across regions, and diversifying staple foods, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said, with imports to be shipped in as a last resort.

Speaking at the Asia CEO Forum Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the primary task remains to increase production.

“What we are doing is to elevate the levels of food production in most of the commodity industries that we have. Whatever will be the deficiency… will be sourced from outside,” Mr. Dar said.

He added support is needed to unlock the potential of the sector and improve its contribution to the country’s gross domestic product, which is currently at 9%.

“There are many employment opportunities to be created in the sector. One-third of the country’s jobs are in agriculture. If we sustain that and increase the various agricultural enterprises, more and more people will be employed as well,” Mr. Dar said.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the value of farming output contracted by 1.2% in 2020, against a 0.3% rise a year earlier.

The contraction was the first decline since 2016, when output dropped 1.5%.

Mr. Dar has said the DA is targeting 2.5% output growth in 2021. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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