By Michael Umaming/NEDA-CAR

The National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) revealed in a press conference here last July 26, 2012 that Cordillera economy, as measured by the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP), has decelerated from 6.3 percent in 2010 to 2.1 percent in 2011.

This was explained to be the result of the big slump in the industry sector which, at 53 percent, accounted for the bulk of the region’s economy. In 2011, the industry grew at 1.9 percent compared to 8.6 percent in 2010.

The industry sector in CAR is largely manufacturing. Manufacturing is largely the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) located in this city. In the period 2009-2011, manufacturing accounts for 78 percent of the industry sector.

The 2011 GRDP total was P122.4 Billion. The industry sector accounted for 53 percent of this amount followed by the service sector which accounted for 36 percent. The remaining 11 percent is accounted for by agriculture.

The service sector also slowed down from a 5.8 percent growth in 2010 to a 2.9 percent growth in 2011. The AHFF (agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing) sector registered an insignificant growth of 0.4 percent. In 2010, the sector had a negative 2.7 percent growth.

NEDA Regional Director Leonardo Quitos Jr. said that if the region wants inclusive growth, what should trouble it most, is the performance of its agriculture, where most Cordillerans depend. According to economic experts, inclusive growth means widest participation and benefits especially the poor sector from economic development which should be growing at a sustained rate of at least 7 to 9 percent.

In the 2009 State of the Region Address (SORA) delivered by former NEDA-CAR Director Juan Ngalob who was then the Acting RDC Chairman, he also bewailed the twisted structure of the regional economy where the sector that employs the most is the least productive.

Employment in the region is mostly in the agriculture sector. The RDP 2011-2016 stated that in the period 2004-2009, 55 percent of the labor force in the region is in agriculture. The latest available data from the National Statistics Office (third quarter 2011) showed that 49 percent of the region’s labor force is in the agriculture sector. Previous studies also revealed that most poor in the region are in agriculture.

Quitos said that the regional economy could be deceiving as it projects CAR as an industrial region even if most people are in agriculture.

He expressed confidence of growth in the years to come with increased spending by the national government and with the implementation of the of the National Irrigation Authority’s CAR 5-Year Irrigation Program.

The NEDA director also said that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is trying to come up with a Resiliency Plan for Agriculture to enhance the sector’s ability to protect itself or to bounce back from the effect of any disaster.

Aldrin Bangit, the Officer-in-Charge of NSCB-CAR, said that the almost nil growth in agriculture is attributed to natural disasters brought about by supertyphoons.