12th Davao Trade Expo (DATE)

President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the huge contribution of the agriculture sector in his speech delivered by Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Secretary Luwalhati Antonino in the opening of the 12th Davao Trade Expo (DATE) Friday at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Convention Hall.

Mr. Aquino said agriculture plays a major role in the country’s growing economy, recording a 16.67-percent share of the Philippines’ gross domestic product during the first semester of the year, based on the report of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

Furthermore, the agriculture sector hit 1.845 billion US dollars or 7.78 percent of the 23.721 billion US dollars total export earnings for the first semester of 2010.

Aside from being a key source of national revenue, the President said, agriculture-related jobs are also the primary means of livelihood for more than a third of the country’s labor force.

“We must continue to strive to keep this sector living. It is part of our administration’s agenda to further develop the country’s primary agricultural crops including rice, corn, coconut, bananas, sugarcane, mangoes, rubber and coffee. These crops, utilized for both domestic consumption and exportation, shall maintain a healthy agricultural trade for the country,” he said.

To sustain the country’s agricultural trade with other countries like Australia, Japan, United States of America, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the European countries, the President commits to keeping the good organization practices. Through this way, he added, economic exchanges and ties will be maintained.

President Aquino likewise stressed the laudable performance of one of the country’s top agricultural sub-sectors–the banana.

He cited that from 2005 until 2009, the country’s banana production increased at a rate of five percent annually. This made it land on the third spot among the world’s major banana producers, only next to Belgium and Ecuador.

This, he said, is already a great achievement considering that the Philippines was the only Asian country to make it in the top five.

“The coming together of DCCCII (Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.) and national government agencies, namely Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Department of Science and Technology (DOST), is timely to gear up on the foreseen growth of banana demands globally in the next decade,” he said.

Before ending his speech, the President encouraged the private sector and other stakeholders to work with the national government in developing and strengthening the agriculture industry.

“Our collective efforts shall ensure sustainable food security and global competitiveness for future generations,” he said.

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