DA official highlights Philippines’ struggle to keep pace in agriculture sector

Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian lamented that despite being an early adopter of technological advancements in agriculture, the Philippines has fallen behind its ASEAN neighbors in the industry.

In an interview with The Chiefs, Sebastian highlighted the country’s failure to capitalize on the momentum gained from technological demonstration farms, unlike Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, which have successfully implemented effective nationwide programs.

“Sa atin naman, we develop a lot of things but then kung minsan nag-eend up lang sila sa demonstration, small scale, you reach a thousand, a hundred thousand, happy na tayo. So kung minsan, yung impact niya at a national level, hindi natin nararamdaman. Kaya isa ring challenge sa atin so that’s why dito ngayon sa rice program, I’m trying to emphasize the need to scale. Hindi lang dapat demonstration. Kailangan we need to scale nationwide and we can only do that if we also know how to localize target location specific problems,” Sebastian said.

He said that one hindrance to massive scaling is the different scenarios per region as the problems encvuntered by Visayas is not the same as Mindanao.

Sebastian acknowledged that achieving success in agriculture takes time and consistent investment in long-term plans. Comparing it to other countries, he cited examples of Malaysia’s 10-year plan with budgeting, and Vietnam’s minister who served for 10 to 12 years, allowing for consistent planning and implementation.

In contrast, the Philippines faces challenges due to the frequent changes in agricultural plans and policies with each new secretary or president, leading to a lack of continuity and consistency.

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