Apart from a slew of food shortages, the Filipino agriculture sector may be facing more problems ahead. External factors are partly to blame, particularly for inflation. But there are also structural issues. Regardless of the causes, consumers will bear the consequences.
Last week, the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. warned of a looming garlic shortage. In an interview, the chamber's president, Danilo Fausto, told the Manila Times that Filipinos consume at least 100,000 tons of garlic yearly, but local farmers can supply only 10 percent of demand. He blamed years of government neglect and policies that shifted every time there was a change in leadership.
Fausto urged the Marcos government to act now before garlic prices shoot up. Late interventions were partly to blame for the price of onion soaring to P700 per kilogram recently. He also criticized the Department of Agriculture, a portfolio held by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself, for resorting to importation as a quick fix. The better approach would be to invest in programs that can boost productivity, he said. Garlic farmers in the Philippines produce only 2 to 3 tons per hectare, far lower than other countries, where the yield averages 15 tons a hectare.
[ P100 = €1.70 ]