Thursday, 2 April 2009

Philippines enhancing chances for growth despite crisis


Manila (PND) -- Having put in place safety nets for the vulnerable sectors of the economy, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is simultaneously enhancing the chances of the Philippines to grow despite the current global financial crisis.

This, by promoting investments in agriculture, tourism and information & communication technology sectors, which have been identified as the growth drivers in the Philippines through the years, said Press Secretary Cerge M. Remonde.

Her thrust for agriculture is aimed at meeting the 98% self sufficiency goal by 2010, making it easier for the country to meet 100 percent sufficiency by 2013 through her FIELDS program (fertilizer, irrigation and other infrastructure facilities, extension and education, loans for inputs and drivers and other post harvest facilities and seeds), Remonde said.

The Department of Agriculture extended 3.2 million fertilizer discount coupons to farmers under the Fertilizer Subsidy Program. It also provided: a) 13,635.52 MT of organic fertilizer and soil ameliorants; b) 2.615 million bio-agents; c) location-specific interventions like Bio-N, Vital-N, Zinc Sulfate and Bio-con and d) soil and plant testing kits to minimize wastage of fertilizer and soil ameliorants.

A total of 74,259 hectares of irrigated farmlands were rehabilitated while irrigation service was restored in another 45,252 hectares. A total of 217,669 farmer-households benefited from 3,220 kilometers of farm-to-market roads that were constructed or rehabilitated which in turn generated 35,351 jobs.

Also built were 16 agricultural tramlines which now facilitate the transport of commodities from highlands to markets (seven in Benguet, three in Mountain Province, two in Nueva Vizcaya, two in Luzon, one in Pampanga and one in Negros Occidental) and 15 mariculture parks were established.

On extension and education, a total of 5,783 training activities were held aside from 212 research and development undertakings to generate production-enhancing and cost reducing technologies, Remonde said.

The government also released P3.18 billion to 108,760 farmers/fisherfolk under various lending programs of the Agro Industry Modernization Credit and Financing Program apart from the P6.32 billion released by Land Bank to 221,110 palay farmer-beneficiaries.

To reduce post harvest (PH) losses and maintain grain quality, 596 flatbed driers were distributed and installed; four corn post harvest processing and trading centers were established each serving 2,000 hectares of corn land to produce quality corn and improve farmers’ incomes through reduced PH losses, Remonde added.

As of December 2008, the government distributed 55,189.12 MT of certified seeds and 2,850.72 MT of hybrid seeds to farmers. Another 8.2 million pieces of planting materials (sugarcane, mango, coconut, cashew, citrus, lanzones, durian, cassava, mushroom and forage cuttings) 28,279 heads of various animals and 122.3 million pieces of fingerlings and broodstock were distributed.

On tourism, 23 tourism projects, including new hotels, tourist facilities, enterprise zones and modernization of accommodations worth P15.9 billion were endorsed by the Department of Tourism. Despite the global slowdown, tourist arrivals as of October 2008 reached 2.6 million, 4% percent more than the 1.87 million recorded in 2007.

With the government’s keen support for ICT, particularly the business process outsourcing, the industry was able to generate 410,000 jobs and revenues of $6.2 billion since end-2008, Remonde said.

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