Marcos asked to consider agri priority list in first 100 days
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has spelled out the list of priorities the incoming administration needs to address in its first 100 days to overcome the challenges engulfing the essential agriculture sector.
Among the items outlined in the agency’s transition document included a proposal to increase the rice buffer stock of the National Food Authority (NFA) to 30 days from seven days.
Under the Rice Tariffication Law, the NFA is responsible for maintaining an optimal rice buffer stock in case of emergency and to sustain the government’s disaster relief efforts, which will be sourced solely from local farmers.
Outgoing Agriculture Secretary William Dar earlier floated the idea of increasing the NFA’s buffer stock and increasing its budget, allowing the rice agency to store more rice.
With a budget of P7 billion, the NFA has the capacity to store 300,000 metric tons, equivalent to one week’s worth of buffer stock. Dar had said with a higher budget allocation, the NFA would be able to maintain 30 days’ worth of supply.
The DA also proposed that local government units expand rice buffer capability to 30 days, particularly in the top 20 rice-producing provinces. It also recommended selling the NFA rice to the most vulnerable sectors of society.
Other items on the priority list include: rehabilitating rice milling centers; distributing free vegetable seeds and other planting materials by state universities and colleges; conducting a massive information dissemination drive on the proper utilization of organic fertilizer and free soil testing; and strengthening collaboration between the DA and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
It also pitched several legislative measures, including the creation of a DA-Bureau of Agri-fishery Industrialization Cooperatives, passage of the Livestock Development Competitive Act, certification as urgent of the bill creating the Department of Fishery and Oceans and hastening the shift to renewable energy-based irrigation, mechanization and agri-fishery production alongside value-adding programs, among others.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said attaining food sovereignty would call for the political will to implement that paradigm, giving topmost priority to agriculture, and a sizable budget for the agriculture sector.
Dar also welcomed the declaration of the incoming president to give topmost priority to agriculture and local food production.