To tame inflation, agriculture must improve – economic managers

Ralf Rivas
To tame inflation, agriculture must improve – economic managers
Economic managers urge the Department of Agriculture to invest in modern farming tools to improve farmer productivity

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s economic team welcomed the slowdown of the inflation rate in November, but renewed calls for the Department of Agriculture (DA) to improve the state of farming and fisheries in the country.

In a joint statement, the National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of Finance said  inflation eased to 6% in November due to the improvement in the supply of key agricultural goods such as rice, fish, meat, and vegetables.

They also said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s Administrative Order No. 13, which cut the red tape in the importation of agricultural products, helped tame prices.

However, the agencies told the DA to invest in modern farming tools and technology using high-yielding and resilient crops.

“This will improve the productivity of the agriculture sector, which remains vulnerable to changing weather conditions,” they said.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol previously described high rice prices as a “win” for farmers.

Rice prices also soared due to the inability of the National Food Authority to secure the required rice buffer stocks.

The agencies also recommended that the DA allow the importation of frozen fish during closed and off-season or during calamities.

They urged the public to report any profiteering activities as well. 

Economic managers also asked the business sector to “avoid any unwarranted price increases,” as experienced during the implementation of the first tranche of the fuel excise tax increase under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law.

The second tranche of increases will push through in 2019, but the economic managers assured Filipinos that they will “keep a vigilant eye” on upward pressures such as volatility in the global oil market to keep bringing down inflation until it falls into the desirable range of 2% to 4%. –

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.