Commentary

DA budget and agriculture performance

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As the Senate deliberates this month on the budget of the Department of Agriculture, we should look at the DA’s budget impact on agricultural performance. The chart below shows this over a nine-year period.

The 2013 DA Budget of P64 billion is 4.6 times the P14 billion of 2004. From 2009 to 2012, the average DA budget was P4.1 billion. This is 52 percent higher than the average P27 billion from 2004 to 2008. However, the much higher DA budget over the last four years has an average agricultural growth of only 1 percent compared to the 4 percent of the prior period. But isn’t a higher budget supposed to result in higher growth? We should do better in 2013, when the DA budget with attached corporations reaches P74 billion.

2025 vision

What should drive the DA 2013 budget is the Agri-Fisheries 2025 (AF2025) vision crafted by a tripartite group in a two-day conference last Feb. 11, 2011. This was led by the executive branch (Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala), the legislature (agriculture committee chairs Sen. Francis Pangilinan and Rep. Mark Mendoza), and the private sector (the Alyansa Agrikultura with its 42 federation organizations and the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Fisheries with its 34 agri-business experts).

“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy, with the vibrant rural sector demonstrating strong production and purchasing power, thus serving as a solid foundation for economic development.

“Our farmers and fisherfolk are prosperous, well organized, and youthful, providing the strongest link in an efficient seed-to-shelf agricultural supply chain, and where an empowered rural women sector catalyzes rapid economic development because of its high return of investment potential.

“A public private partnership (PPP) approach is used in governance, especially at the lower government level, that promotes integrity as an antidote to corruption, and competence as an antidote to ignorance, to make the Philippines a premier competitive agricultural force in the global economy.

Budget implications

Does the DA 2013 budget proposal contain provisions that will achieve this vision? The private sector AF2025 participants have recommended such provisions so that the DA budget will result in better agricultural performance. They have suggested items such as sectoral road maps (what: to do the right things) and management systems such as ISO 9000 (how: to do these things well).

But the most important provisions in the budget should address the third part of the AF2025 vision: PPP in governance. This will be both defensive (prevent corruption) and directional (recommend the right programs). Significant budget support should be given to the legally mandated public-private Municipal Agriculture Fisheries Councils (MAFCs). They should be actively used by the municipal mayors so that the DA budget will actually result in agricultural growth.

Projects at the local level with public-private sector governance should also be supported. An example is Sagip Saka, which operationalizes the AF2025 vision in local communities. This is featured in 20 Bombo Radyo provincial stations that demonstrate the best development PPP models and agricultural practices. Private sector sponsors like Emperador Light have made this possible in true public-private partnership fashion. Past episodes can be seen at the Sagip Saka Radio Drama in the www.kiko.ph website.

Conclusion

Higher budgets should result in more, not less, agricultural growth. But just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes more than top DA officials to accelerate agricultural growth.

To achieve the AF2025 vision, Congress must pass a DA budget that will result in agricultural growth. The private sector must then work with and fully support the admirable efforts of Secretary Alcala in making this DA budget an effective and indispensable tool for agricultural development.

(The author is chairman of Agri-watch, former Secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, and former Undersecretary for Agriculture, Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail agri-watch_phil@yahoo.com or telefax (02) 8522112.)

AGRICULTURAL PERFORMANCE

YEAR        DA BUDGET     AGRICULTURAL GROWTH YTD
            (P Billion)

2004           14                 5%
2005           15                 2%
2006           16                 4%
2007           19                 5%
2008           28                 4%
2009           48                 0%
2010           50                 0%
2011           35                 2%
2012           53                 2%
2013           63

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  • iping2sison

    Unless irrigated agricultural lands are not sold to real-estate property developers, the vision is attainable. The tripartite group has overlooked how property developers causes the decline in food production and dislocation of farmers.

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