Climate change is making it more difficult for the Philippines to achieve food security, a senior government official said on January 13.

The Philippines’ Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan was reported by Xinhua as saying agriculture, which serves as the country's "backbone" in achieving food security, is highly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters.

"In fact, partial data show that in 2013, 74 percent of estimated damages of natural disasters in the country were in the agriculture sector," Balisacan said in his welcome remarks for the launch of an agriculture-related project on January 13 in Metro Manila, the Philippines' capital region.

Under the project, the Philippine government is partnering with international agencies CGIAR and the International Food Policy Research Institute to come up with strategies that will make the agriculture sector resilient to climate change.

Balisacan noted that super typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, damaged 600,000 hectares of agricultural lands, with 1.1 million metric tons of crops lost.

The typhoon caused extensive damage to rice lands and coconut- growing areas in central Philippines .

"These losses and damages are expected to continue to reflect in foregone production of the early 2014 crop season," said Balisacan.

In January to September 2013, the National Statistical Coordination Board reported that the agriculture sector posted a measly 0.3 percent growth. This is slower than the 4.4-percent increase in output registered in the same period last year.

The government is targeting to make the country less dependent on food imports by the time Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III steps down from office in 2016.-VNA