At the close of his term, the Aquino administration is boasting of a 6.2 GDP from Arroyo’s 4.8 at the end of her term in 2010. This figure is the third highest performer among the 12 selected Asian economies with China as thehighest with 8.3 followed by India with 7.3. By all indication the Aquino Presidency has stirred the country towards higher economic growth which poses a greater challenge to the incoming Duterte administration to sustain and maintain or even surpass it. Given however the economic policies that are already in place it won’t be difficult for theDuterte administration to surpass it.
However while government boasts of high economic growth rate, there is no denying that povertyincidence is still high at 26.3% as of the first semester of 2015 according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) formerly National Census and Statistics Office (NCSO). With a population of 100.7 million, that would be 26,484,000 Filipinosliving below poverty threshold.
PSA has also reported that for the same period subsistence incidence was at 12.1%. Subsistence incidence is living in extreme poverty where a family could not meet the food threshold or the minimum income needed to meet basic food needs and satisfy the nutritional requirements set forth by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI). To meet this need FNRI says a family of five will need a minimum income of at least P6,365 a month.That’s 12,184,700Filipinos not eating three times a day.
So what and where does this 6.2 GDP growth translates to? Real economic growth rate should be felt by everyone. Yet economic planners were always frothing inclusive growth in their agenda and plans. Unfortunately the inclusive growth is only among the already rich to the exclusion of the poor. That could be one real reason why Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s anointed presidential candidate was rejected by the Filipino voters.
We always claim that 80% of the Filipinos are in the farming and fishing sector but how have their interests been integrated or incorporated in the economic and development plans of the government? Now we are surprised how come despite glowing economic growth statistics criminality continues unabated.
The real surprise is how our leaders could still sleep soundly at night knowing that 12 million of their constituents may go to bed without food in their stomach. Or that may be 1 million of these 12 million will not sleep at all because they will look for a house to climb and gain entrance and see what they can steal, or may be lurk in the dark alley and await a rich looking passer-by to stick up.
It is time the agriculture and fishery sectors get their long overdue attention in the development plans of government. It is time small farmers get back their interest on their farms because government has concrete plans and programs to help them with the support that they need. It is time they are taught that being small is not a hindrance to becoming big because the programs of government are nowt biased in their favour.
It is time to prove that planting camote is no longer the only option left for the dull student in school but an entrepreneurial crop that could propel one farmer to earn higher income. It is time our farmers are taught how to add value to their produce.
The Farmers Business School is one way of helping our farmers overcome poverty incidence. There are other ways of course that my kababayan and friend, incoming Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol can employ to make our farmers feel and enjoy the economic growth that government is proud to report.
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