DA seeks P 250B in last year of Duterte gov’t | Inquirer Business
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DA seeks P 250B in last year of Duterte gov’t

By: - Reporter / @kocampoINQ
/ 04:05 AM July 27, 2021

The Department of Agriculture (DA) will put in a budget request of P250 billion for the final year of President Duterte’s administration next year —three times more than the 2021 allocation—to at least keep pace with agricultural developments in Southeast Asia.

“We pray that the country’s agriculture sector could be afforded that long-delayed financial support,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement.

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The proposed budget was formulated based on consultations with stakeholders during the recently concluded National Food Summit, according to Agriculture Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes.

The goal is to ramp up support for sectors other than crops —primarily rice and corn— which usually get the lion’s share of the annual budget for agriculture.

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The DA in 2020 asked for an annual funding of P240 billion but this was eventually trimmed to just P79.9 billion. About 75 percent of the agency’s funding was placed under Dar’s office, and was used to fund seven commodity banner programs as well as local and foreign-assisted projects.

Reyes said the agency hoped that with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the urgent need to invest in the essential field of agriculture, lawmakers will be more inclined in this final year of Mr. Duterte’s term to heed the DA’s long-standing call for a bigger budget.

He added that agriculture had proven to be the “most resilient” against pandemics compared to the industry and services sectors.

A bigger funding will also allow the DA to combat the presence of African swine fever in livestock farms and curb the spread of the Panama disease in the banana industry.

There is also clamor to intensify the construction of cold-storage facilities, food hubs and other infrastructure that could modernize production and streamline access to affordable food.

“We are bent on increasing farm and fishery productivity by showing and convincing our farmers and fishers to adopt modern and innovative technologies,” Dar said. “That’s why it is imperative for us to promote the OneDA agenda in tandem with the LGUs (local government units), SUCs (state universities and colleges), the private sector and farmers’ and fishers’ groups.”

Part of the proposed budget will fund the agency’s rice program (P33.5 billion that includes the P10 billion from the rice competitiveness enhancement program), projects for corn (P7.2 billion), high-value crops (P11.3 billion), livestock (P22.4 billion), fisheries (P282. billion) and market development (P3 billion). The rest will be used to finance projects under the Philippine Rural Development Program, the establishment of farm-to-market roads and the development of the country’s farmers and fishers registry system. INQ

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