January 6, 2012
ANGARA CALLS FOR DRASTIC REFORMS IN AGRI SECTOR
Senator Edgardo J. Angara today called on the Aquino administration to prioritize the development of the country's agriculture sector, making it more productive and resilient to climate change.
Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, renewed his call as he expressed alarm over the statement of Munich Re, a noted reinsurer, that for the first nine months of the year, economic losses from natural catastrophes totalled US$310 billion, with 80 percent occurring in Asia.
Meanwhile, Swiss Re, another reinsurer, described 2011 as having "the highest catastrophe-related economic losses in history."
"The sheer amount of damage should only drive the point further--climate change is here, and it will affect very significant aspects of our lives, foremost among which is our agriculture," said the former agriculture secretary.
He also cited reports from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) that out of the 19 tropical cyclones that hit the country in 2011, the top ten most destructive caused over P25 billion worth of damage to property.
Between typhoons "Bebeng," "Chedeng," "Falcon," "Juaning," "Kabayan," "Mina," "Pedring," "Quiel," "Ramon" and "Sendong," over P14.5 billion worth of crops and agricultural products were destroyed, he further noted.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) announced that it will focus on providing nationwide infrastructure, post-harvest facilities, R&D and extension and training services to boost the agricultural sector's productivity over the long term.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has recently ordered the integration of climate change adaptation measures into all programs and projects of the department for 2012. "It is good that the DA has stepped up to lead our agricultural sector in preparing for the adverse impacts of climate change. But the DA cannot do it alone, given the magnitude of the task at hand. I urge the Aquino administration to pour as many resources as possible towards ensuring that our crops are climate-change ready," said Angara, who is also Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE).
He continued, "COMSTE has been pushing for the creation of a public-private partnership (PPP) among the government, the academe and industry in research and development (R&D) for precision farming and smart agriculture".
Dubbed the "innovation cluster," the initiative aims to deploy remote sensing technologies and satellite imagery as a form of logistics and decision-making support for Filipino farmers. Around P90 million of the 2012 budget has been allocated for the establishment of said cluster.
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