THE CONTRIBUTION of the agricultural sector to the country’s economy was challenged during the first UST Young Economists Summit held Monday.
UST Department of Economics Chair Emmanuel Lopez said concentration should not be on agricultural areas but on the archipelago’s aquaculture. “Don’t try to be misled that the Philippines is basically an agricultural country. It’s not. There’s an agricultural area that we are to explore but we should not be concentrating on that because for so many years, it has contributed almost mini in terms of development.”
He added that the country is “geographically unfit and historically misaligned in terms of priorities” which is why the agricultural sector has been yielding poor returns since the 1960s.
“Concentrating on aquaculture will be a game-changer as far as the Philippine economic development is concerned. Try to shift. We do not disregard the importance of the agricultural sector but we should try to deviate some of our budget in the aquaculture department in order to attain sustainability in food production,” he said.
Likewise, retired UST professor Ernesto Gonzales said “blue economy” is the country’s strength, with big potential to spur economic growth.
“‘Yung dagat natin, apat ang pwede nating makuha diyan: seafood resources, energy from the sea na hindi fossil fuel-based, minerals from the sea, at modernization,” he said.
Nevertheless, Gonzales said agriculture has to be maintained considering there are 1.6 million farmers in the country that depend on farming solely.
Meanwhile, UST professor and president of Entrepreneurship Educators Association of the Philippines, Inc. Assoc. Prof. Cristina Cabral said the share of the agricultural sector from 2010 to the third quarter of 2015 is far below the share of the industry and of the services sector, adding that improving the agricultural sector will contribute a lot to poverty reduction.
The lecture titled “Revisiting the Philippine Agricultural Myth” was attended by students from the Faculty of Arts and Letters, College of Business and Administration, and representatives from the Junior Philippine Economics Society. F MIKKAH F. FACTOR