WESTERN VISAYAS is aiming for at least 6.5% growth in gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth this year, from 6.1% in 2018, with regional officials hoping to focus their efforts on the agriculture and fisheries sectors, which have been affected by the dry spell due to El Niño.
“We hope to be able to reach a growth rate higher than 6.5% because that is what we need in order to make a dent in the economy,” said National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-Region 6 Director Ro-Ann A. Bacal as she presented last week the 2018 regional socio-economic report.
“Meaning with the 6.5, you know that the economy is robust, you know that money is circulating around the economy and that business is doing good, not for all business but generally, that would be the situation,” she said.
Ms. Bacal said to hit this year’s growth target, efforts must be focused on the Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishing (AHFF) sector.
She noted that the 6.1% growth in 2018 was slower than the 8.6% in 2017 due to a decline in AHFF, which accounts for 17.2% of total GRDP.
“In the case of the agriculture sector, I’m really disappointed knowing that my counterpart is doing her best. Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director Remelyn R. Recoter is going around exerting so much effort to reach out to local government units. We just hope that we will do better this year although we have a problem with El Niño,” she said.
Partial data as of June 14 from the regional office of the DA indicates that losses due to El Niño amounted to more than P1.4 billion, with rice farmers sustaining the most damage at over P1.16 billion.
Losses for corn and high-value crops were at P246.34 million and P48.48 million, respectively.
The dry spell also affected the fisheries and livestock and poultry sectors.
Jimmy G. Eledia Jr., DA-Western Visayas focal person for disaster risk reduction and management, said the department is still waiting for reports from some provinces and municipalities. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo