THE Department of Agriculture (DA) hopes to elevate agricultural production growth to 4% by 2022 with a package of measures promoting the development of small businesses and financial assistance to farmers.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said that the DA is pursuing a so-called “2-3-4” strategy with targets to grow agricultural output by 2% in 2020, 3% in 2021, and 4% in 2022.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, the DA is estimating growth of 2.5%-3%.

In the third quarter, agriculture output grew 2.87%, the highest in more than two years despite a drop in the production of palay, or unmilled rice, which accounted for 15% of the total value of production.

Palay output fell 4.53%.

The government has a 2.5-3.5% target range for farm output growth under the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan.

“For 2020, we proposed a P71.8-billion budget, which is 12% bigger than this year, at P64.1 billion. This budget puts forth measures designed to encourage small business initiatives, facilitate credit, and stimulate economic progress through competition,” Mr. Dar said in a separate statement.

The department also plans to attract more private and public investment and to provide technical advice and assistance to agribusinesses.

The implementation of the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) will be supported by the distribution of fertilizer to further boost rice production and to create more irrigated land via small-scale irrigation systems.

“We aim to… promote white corn as a food staple; intensify yellow corn production in support to livestock and poultry; produce cassava for food, feed and industrial uses; and develop sorghum as a supplement to corn for feed,” he said.

In the livestock, poultry, and dairy sub-sectors, the DA hopes to distribute draft animals to assist backyard raisers, and semen for artificial insemination. The department will also seek to distribute vaccine and medicine.

Village-level feed mills will also be built to reduce feed costs, as part of measures to control and contain African Swine Fever (ASF), the spread of which has been blamed partly on swill feeding.

The department will also carry out dairy goat farming projects “to accelerate dairy herd growth and milk production.”

It will provide planting materials and post-harvest facilities for high-value crops like mango, banana, and pineapple. Onion and garlic farmers will be the targets for solar-powered irrigation systems. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang