Press Release
July 19, 2020

Bong Go urges gov't to further develop agro-industries to boost rural development in support of BP2 Program

Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go is pushing for the development and transformation of the agricultural sector into a thriving agro-industry to provide more economic opportunities to Filipinos. This, he said, will support the goals of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program for inclusive economic growth and rural development as means to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

"It is in our interest as a developing country to ensure that agriculture in the countryside develops into a more productive and competitive agro-industrial sector to provide more economic opportunities to Filipinos," Go said.

Agro-industries are industries whose raw materials come from agricultural production. They also make use of both simple and sophisticated agricultural technologies and processes. By adding value to the raw agri-products, such as the processing of fresh produce into another product, additional income opportunities are generated.

"Halimbawa, bigyan natin ng oportunidad ang mga magsasaka na hindi lang umani at magbenta ng prutas at gulay, kundi magkaroon rin dapat ng kapasidad ang kanilang komunidad na iproseso ang mga ito sa iba't iba pang produkto. Madadagdagan ang kita, produksyon, trabaho at mas marami ang nakakabenepisyo sa isang lugar," he explained.

According to Go, this is in line with the Philippine Rural Development Program which sets the platform and framework for a food secure and resilient Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolks. The program also aims for the development of a modern, climate-smart, and market-oriented agri-fishery sector.

Go added that a viable agro-industrial sector will provide employment and economic security for Filipinos in rural areas, complementing the objectives of the BP2 program.

"Through the jobs created by a robust agro-industrial sector, we can guarantee jobs for Filipinos so they will not have to move to Metro Manila anymore in search of better job opportunities," Go said.

BP2 Executive Director and National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. recently said that they decided to reschedule the subsequent rollouts of BP2 in order to give way to the implementation of Hatid Tulong initiatives.

Given this, Go is urging agencies mandated to implement the BP2 program to use this time to conduct a thorough review taking into consideration the health and safety measures that should be implemented as well as the readiness of local government units to support their growing communities by ensuring that economic opportunities will be available for them.

"We have enough time to polish, study and review the necessary guidelines to ensure that those who will avail of the program can be provided sufficient economic opportunities in the provinces," Go stressed.

The Senator cited examples, such as the acquisition of farming technologies, training on sophisticated farming techniques, establishment of steady supply chains, building of transport and agricultural infrastructure, investments on research and development, and designating agro-industrial hubs in the country, as ways to support this transformation of the agriculture sector to a more viable source of economic opportunities in the provinces.

As an example, Go cited the recent plan of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and the Department of Agriculture to establish an agro-industrial hub in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac which aims to support the agriculture industry and strengthen food security in Luzon.

BCDA explained that "the project complements the agency's rebooting strategy amidst the pandemic through the development of Agro-industrial Business Corridors (ABCs) for food security and livelihood." It also notes that New Clark City has a "strategic" location and is easily accessible from both North and South Luzon.

The DA is also studying the creation of ABCs in twelve new economic zones identified by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to attract more and larger investments in agriculture.

Go, earlier, has also called for the use of smart technology to boost country's food production resiliency amid the ongoing pandemic. According to Go, given the uncertainty and increasing adverse impact of the health crisis, as well as climate change, to the country, there is a need to invest more on developing agricultural technologies to ensure food security in the country.

"Hindi lamang po nito mai-improve ang productivity ng ating mga magsasaka, susuportahan din po nito ang layunin nating magkaroon ng food security sa bansa," he added.

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