DA eyes bigger budget in 2021

BIGGER BUDGET. To support the growing need of the country amid the global health and economic crisis, the Department of Agriculture wants the government to raise the agency’s working budget for 2021 to P284.4 billion. The bulk of the budget will be used to increase rice production. (SunStar file)

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking a bigger budget in 2021, totaling P284.4 billion, more than thrice its current budget of P79.9 billion.

“The agri-fishery sector, for the longest time, has been a ‘sleeping giant’ of the national economy, whose vast potentials remain largely untapped to achieve higher and sustainable growth,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

“While the agriculture sector contributes about 10 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), it gets a measly share of total national appropriations, at three to five percent in the last 10 years,” the DA chief said.

The proposed budget will bankroll existing (P61.8 billion) and new (P222.6 billion) DA programs and projects in 2021.

“The stakes are high. If we were to ensure that agriculture contributes its full potentials in the country’s economic recovery in the ‘new normal,’ we need to augment the DA budget,” he added.

“Given our current resources, the sector will continue to perform poorly if not given the proper financial support,” he lamented.

In 2021, the DA aims to further increase the production of major commodities, with respective proposed budget for rice at P56 billion, fisheries at P22.5 billion, high-value crops at P13.7 billion, livestock and poultry at P11.2 billion and corn at P6.6 billion.

It also wishes to spend P130 billion to bankroll locally funded projects, construction of farm-to-market roads, implementation of national soil health and young farmers’ programs; P7.15 billion as counterpart for foreign-assisted projects such as the Philippine Rural Development Project; market development services at P3 billion; and organic agriculture at P960.4 million.

“In all, the budget is intended to sustain, reboot and grow the Philippine agriculture and fisheries sector, amid the challenges brought by the pandemic and into the ‘new normal.’ We, therefore, seek your highest approval of our budget proposal for the coming year,” Dar told lawmakers during a teleconference with the House of Representatives’ Committee on agriculture and food chaired by Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga on July 8, 2020.

Meanwhile, the DA said it has shifted its food system policy to focus on sustainably providing resources in the “new normal.” In his message during the Pre-State of the Nation Address forum of President Rodrigo Duterte’s cabinet clusters on economic development and infrastructure, Dar said the agency’s priority programs should be met amid a growing population in the middle of a pandemic.

Dar said there should be an increase in food sufficiency levels of basic food and other commodities, a focus on production-to-consumption value chain, empowerment of the marginalized sector and support on diverse distribution efforts with good logistics.

Nutrition month

In the ongoing nutrition month, DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado encouraged all nutrition frontliners, advocates and stakeholders to produce their own food like planting vegetables in their backyard.

Diputado said the DA is giving some vegetable seeds through the different local government units or to walk-in clients of the office.

However, he added, that there are also other ways to source seeds from the vegetables bought from the markets and groceries.

“When you buy vegetables in the market, never throw the seeds. Use these (seeds) in planting vegetables,” Diputado said in a press release.

Diputado also said planting vegetables doesn’t require large areas. One can plant veggies even in containers or what is called “container gardening.” (JOB with PR)


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