A FIVE percent increase in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) has been proposed anew for the local government to augment their agricultural and fishery activities in their respective localities.

Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) in a statement assured the mayors and governors “to work towards the increase of their IRA by 5 percent more so that they can devote resources to agricultural activities.”

But they should commit to use this portion of the IRA to agriculture and fishery activities, said Legarda.

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“Therefore I appeal to the House of Representatives and the Senate Committee on Civil Service to work with me in the integration of the Magna Carta Bill with the bill on the National Extension System for Agriculture and Fisheries” Legarda added.

Legarda said in the next few weeks, she will conduct consultation meetings with local extension workers and tell them that they should start thinking of improving their expertise by getting the needed technical and managerial training in teaching the farmers and fisherfolk how to prepare simple feasibility studies and how to approach rural banks and other microfinance institutions.

Very important, they should also teach the farmers how to manage their cooperatives, said Legarda.

She stressed that the national government through proposed apex agency for extension of the Department of Agriculture professionalizes the management and standardizes the salaries and benefits of the local extension workers while it shepherds local government units (LGUs) to full maturity in the execution of devolved functions.

In time, when local governance has reached maturity as regards local autonomy and empowerment, full powers will be returned to chief executives, she said.

But the country cannot sacrifice the welfare of our farmers and fisherfolk who produce our food but suffer the brunt of the inefficiency of local extension, she pointed out.