Washington panel reports on PH agriculture, science & tech | Global News

Washington panel reports on PH agriculture, science & tech

/ 02:23 AM March 24, 2016

High-level panel.group shot

From left to right, DTI Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo, DOST Undersecretary Amelia Guevara, DAR Secretary Virgilio De los Reyes, and DA Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano are the panelists of the High-Level Discussion on PH Agriculture, Manufacturing and Science and Technology held at the Philippine Embassy, Washington, DC March 17. CONTRIBUTED

WASHINGTON, D.C.— A panel of senior Philippine officials explained the “opportunities and challenges” in Philippine agriculture, manufacturing, and science and technology, highlighting the country’s economic growth, the quality of the Filipino workforce and efforts at inclusive growth as well as improved competitiveness during a forum at the Philippine Embassy March 17.

Secretary Virgilio De los Reyes of the Philippine Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) led the panel and was joined by Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Segfredo R. Serrano, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Amelia P. Guevara, and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo, Jr.


De los Reyes asserted that agrarian reform has made lives better for Filipinos. Mandated under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act of 1988 (CARP), DAR has assured ownership of land and access to technical support and legal services.


He explained that “based on our statistics, most of the land under the scope of DAR has been distributed to small landowners” and that DAR is in the process of digitizing a landholding database and developing a technology-enabled framework to expedite resolution of land disputes.

The agriculture sector employs over 30 percent of the Philippine workforce yet contributes less than 15 percent to GDP.  Secretary De los Reyes cited the report he presented at the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, emphasizing the need to improve profits of small farmers.

Lack of access to affordable credit has limited farmers’ resources. De los Reyes described the government’s role as an “enabler” that provides assistance to more adaptable and business-minded farmers, and improves collective capacities of farmers’ cooperatives.

Undersecretary Serrano said that under the Aquino Administration, seed and farm subsidies were eliminated, with funds diverted to infrastructure — building farm to market roads and irrigation facilities that can withstand extreme climate events.

To prepare for projected temperature and sea-level rise, Serrano stressed the need to align development policies and research with scenarios 5-7 years onward. The effects of slow onset of climate change can be devastating to agricultural productivity in the long term.

For her part, Undersecretary Guevara reiterated that “Innovation is the engine of any modern economy; and one look around the Philippines tells us that we have the natural inventiveness to be one of the leaders in this regard.”


She challenged Filipinos to chart their own course and become self-reliant. The Philippines has come a long way towards becoming “technology self-reliant.”

Initially relying on foreign technology adapted to local needs, the country launched the first Filipino-made micro satellite called Diwata-1. She noted that the future of innovative solutions rests on effective collaborative efforts by agencies, universities, innovation centers, and returning Filipino scientists under DOST’s Balik Scientists Program.

Guevara also presented several DOST innovations serving farmers and fishermen, like the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) warning tool for flooding and typhoon preparedness; Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment Mitigation (DREAM) program completed mapping 18 of the country’s major river systems by airborne LiDAR scanners.

Food processing, a key component of the manufacturing industry, is a major growth sector as demand for packaged food is fueled by rising income and urbanization. Undersecretary Rodolfo estimates that 2,000 new food products are introduced annually.

Economic reforms likewise continue to boost the investment climate and economic growth. Undersecretary Rodolfo emphasized the importance of bilateral trade agreements and regional economic agreements. The Philippines is exploring trade agreements with Trans Pacific Partnership countries Canada, Chile and Mexico. projects.

U.S.-Philippines Society President Ambassador John F. Maisto lauded the officials for “their admirable dedication to public service, professionalism, and competence has contributed to a stronger and more dynamic U.S.-Philippines relationship.”

The event was co-organized by the Philippine Embassy and the U.S.-Philippines Society.

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TAGS: John Maisto, US-Philippines Society

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