THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Tuesday that it plans to build a network of agro-industrial and marine estates to ensure the adequacy of food supplies.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Francisco T. Laurel, Jr. said he is planning to amend the charter of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) to make it responsible for developing and managing the facilities.

Mr. Laurel added that tweaking the PFDA’s functions aligns with the goals of the Philippine Rural Development Program and the current administration’s plan to modernize agriculture.

The estates will serve as “one-stop shops” with ports, cold-storage facilities, silos, and warehouses.

“I’ve seen this model successfully implemented in South Korea and Japan. I hope the World Bank can help us realize this vision,” Mr. Laurel said.

According to the DA, the World Bank has indicated that funding sources are available in the form of grants from the Global Environment Facility and the European Union, which support marine protected areas.

He added that agri-fisheries logistics needed to be improved, and called for a “logistics masterplan” for the industry.

“That is one thing I think is lacking in the DA,” he added.

Mr. Laurel said he would designate an assistant secretary to take charge of logistics.

“We need to scale up and get our priorities straight,” he said. “I have technically three-and-a-half years to accomplish these things. The DA, under my watch, will do its best to speed things up.”

Additionally, Mr. Laurel said he was seeking possible adjustments to the DA budget for 2024 to better align with the administration’s farm production goals and to raise incomes of farmers and fishermen.

The DA had earlier proposed a budget of more than P167.5 billion for 2024.

“The government estimates that around 10 million farmers and fishermen live below the poverty line despite agriculture providing jobs for one in every four Filipino workers,” it added. — Adrian H. Halili