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Davao City - Innovative solutions, along with equitable digitalization, were identified as among the emerging sectors to support Mindanao’s domestic growth in the new normal, as outlined in Mindanao Development Authority’s 10-point economic recovery agenda.

In her talk during the Annual Scientific Conference of the National Research Council of the Philippines - Mindanao Regional Cluster held virtually today, MinDA Executive Director Janet Lopoz said that the development of technology and advances in science must be now more responsive to the needs of Mindanao’s food sector and help it better withstand the effects of lockdowns and disruptions in the supply chain.

“We saw how mobility restrictions and lockdowns have driven companies to shift their businesses and services online. The use of digital technology and e-commerce has become the new business norm,” Lopoz added.

Base on the data shared by MinDA, food and non-alcoholic beverages, along with Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and logistics were the only subsectors that posted positive growth, albeit slow.

“This tells us a lot about the new sectors that we need to be paying more attention to, those that have kept our economy afloat despite the lockdowns and mobility restrictions,” Lopoz said.

The 10-point economic agenda identifies the need for better internet connectivity and virtual transaction literacy among Mindanao’s agri and food stakeholders. The use of digital payments, according to Lopoz, has skyrocketed in many parts of the region.

In the Philippines, the leading mobile wallet company, GCash, saw a 700% year-to-year increase in transaction volume in June 2020 alone and doubled its registered users in the first half of 2020.

Innovations in logistics were also instrumental in establishing alternative food supply networks. Logistics companies such as Ninja Van began innovating their delivery process to expand across new services that would navigate through the constraints of the current operating conditions.

Early this year, MinDA initiated several rapid impact assessment studies with different International Development Partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for the conduct of “Rapid assessment of the impact of COVID 19 on food supply chains in the Philippines”, and the “COVID 19 Mindanao and BARMM Rapid Social Economic Impact Assessment Study" with UNDP and Social Enterprises Research and Development (SERDEF).

Results of the studies were among the bases for identifying the immediate to long-term agenda for economic recovery, which includes fast-tracking of vaccination roll-out, ensuring sufficient supply of locally-produced goods, green financing, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) development, and strengthening BIMP EAGA cooperation for market access. #

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