Government to hike investments in R&D activities to boost farm output

The Duterte administration vowed to increase its investments in research and development (R&D) activities to boost the farm sector’s productivity, according to the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.

“Investments will be increased to cover the direct cost of R&D, build a critical mass of human resources and improve infrastructure in support of the Harmonized National R&D Agenda for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources 2017-2022,” Chapter 8 of PDP, titled Expanding Economic Opportunities in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, read.

“This agenda espouses the use of advanced and emerging technologies, such as biotechnology, genomics, bioinformatics, nanotechnology and ICT [information and communications technology] as tools to find science and technology solutions to AFF [agriculture, fisheries and forestry] problems and to develop new products with significant impact to the sector,” it added.

In Chapter 14 of the PDP, titled Vigorously Advancing Science, Technology, and Innovation, the government bared its plan to craft a Harmonized National R&D Agenda (HNRDA) that would serve as a road map to advancing R&D in the country.

“Funding support will be provided for the implementation of the HNRDA, which defines the country’s priorities and guides public investment in R&D. The agenda will consolidate and promote basic and applied research in agriculture, aquatic resources, natural resources, health and nutrition, drug discovery and development, industry, energy, defense and security and emerging technologies,” it read.

The government said it will prioritize the development of R&D in sectors that would benefit the most from advanced technologies and innovative practices, such as the agriculture sector.

“This is expected to translate to an increase in incomes and jobs, especially in the countryside. The government will also foster the development of networks and markets, and undertake effective marketing strategies through the extensive use of quad-media and the organization of fora, fairs and exhibits,” the chapter read.

The PDP noted that, despite the significance of R&D in developing technologies and identifying good farm and fishery management practices, the share of R&D programs remains low in the total budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.

“In 2015 the aggregate budget was at P3.8 billion or only 0.28 percent of the AFF GVA [in current prices], which is lower compared to the 1-percent level recommended for developing countries,” it read.

The government also noted that the farm sector’s R&D capacity is “quite weak” because most of the scientists and researchers in the sector work on a contractual basis due to the limited number of permanent work positions.

The PDP said the government would tap the expertise of private and public institutions and think tanks to strengthen the farm sector’s R&D capacity.

“The coordination and complementation between DA and LGUs [local government units] will be strengthened for a more efficient delivery of extension services and feedback on farm-related problems,” it read.

“State universities and colleges will also be tapped to hasten he diffusion of good farm and fishery practices, indigenous and local knowledge and appropriate technologies,” it added.

The national government is keen on growing farm production by 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent annually starting this year until 2022, when the President steps down from office, according to the PDP.

The previous administration had targeted to increase annual agriculture and fisheries output by as much as 5 percent.

-Written by Jasper Y. Arcalas in BusinessMirror.  See original article link here.

Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas is a graduate of the UST Journalism School (Batch 2016). He currently covers agribusiness for the BusinessMirror. He joined the news outfit in August 2016.