By Justine Irish DP Tabile
AGRICULTURAL public-private partnerships (PPPs) and investing in farmers will help ensure food security and counter the trend of younger people being discouraged from taking up unrewarding careers in agriculture, a senior meat industry executive said.
“If we want food security, we have to make sure we have farmer security. Because if we do not plant our own, if we do not grow our own, crops, livestock etc., we will always have food insecurity,” North Star Meat Merchants, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Anthony Ng said in an interview with BusinessWorld.
According to Mr. Ng, farmers don’t want to pass on their trade to their children because farming is difficult and not financially rewarding.
“I hope there will be a push to…entice our farmers to stay (and provide encouragement to) their sons and daughters,” Mr. Ng added.
The government can help by offering more PPPs in agriculture “in partnership with food companies” and fund the Department of Agriculture (DA) adequately.
“It’s really the synergy, the working together of the government and the private (sector) that will solve this … Private cannot just be completely reliant on government. Government cannot do it alone,” Mr. Ng added.
He added that the private sector “should do its job” by maximizing whatever policies the government comes up with to support agriculture.
Mr. Ng noted that there has been a push to give the DA an adequate budget to effect the recovery in the supply crop and livestock subsector.
Crops and livestock “have been severely hit” by natural disasters and the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak, “Kailangan lang talaga nila ituloy (The government just needs to follow through),” Mr. Ng said.
“There is no commercially available vaccine yet (for ASF). There have supposedly been trials in Vietnam together with a US company… until that comes into play, this situation will persist,” Mr. Ng said.
The poultry supply has also been affected by avian flu, raising the prospect of increased imports. Overall, inflation is also raising production costs, making farming less lucrative.
“Farmers are losing money; therefore, they are producing less,” he added.