IT took a sitting president to concurrently serve as Agriculture secretary for the DA “to finally reap a budget increase,” Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto said Sunday.
With President Marcos at its helm, the Department of Agriculture will see its budget shoot up by 44 percent, from P71 billion this year to P102.15 billion next year, the Batangas representative said.
“You can say that this is the beginning of the end of a funding drought,” Recto said, adding the increase should be supported because “to beat hunger, a country should not starve its farming sector of funds.”
Recto said eight big agricultural agencies deemed as government corporations will likewise be getting hefty increases in budgetary subsidy from the national government.
From P46.2 billion this year, subsidy to the National Food Authority, Sugar Regulatory Administration, National Irrigation Administration, Philippine Rice Research Institute, Philippine Fisheries Development Authority, National Tobacco Administration, Philippine Coconut Authority, National Dairy Authority will go up to P62 billion, a 33 percent bump.
Of the eight, the NFA will post the biggest hike, a 71 % jump from P7 billion to P12 billion. This will allow NFA to hike its buffer stock capacity from 9 days to 15 days.
Next is SRA, which has been earmarked a budget subsidy of P1 billion, up by 41 percent, from this year’s P712.2 million.
At the so-called “DA Proper”, the Office of the Secretary (OSEC) will see its budget surge from P61 billion to P90.2 billion, a 48 percent or P29 billion hike.
The OSEC will run the National Rice Program whose allocation will be doubled from P15.8 billion in 2022 to P30.5 billion in 2023.
Of this amount P19.5 billion will fund fertilizer support which, according to Recto, “is a must at this time when fertilizer prices have gone through the roof.”
“When crops are denied of nutrients, the resulting low harvest deprives our people of nutrition. ‘Yan ang nangyari sa Sri Lanka,” Recto said.
Under the DA plan, P5.2 billion will be plowed to the corn sector, P5 billion to livestock, P2 billion to high value crops, and P5.2 to fisheries.
Other agencies slated to receive bigger funds are the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, up 66 percent, or from P156 million to P259 million, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, from P4.7 billion to P6.3 billion, a 35 percent boost.
The DA will also be ramping up infrastructure spending, allotting P13.1 billion for farm-to-market roads and P29.5 billion for irrigation.
The planned increase in the DA budget comes on the heels of a global study tagging the Philippines as the most food insecure in East and Southeast Asia and 146th out of 171 countries.
“Maraming kulang. Mula asukal, isda, sibuyas, pati bigas. Our food import bill is rising. The steep rise in the cost of production inputs, from fertilizer to fuel, has lowered production while increasing food prices,” he said.
Recto said the agriculture budget should finance “a turnaround plan” that will boost harvest and farmers’ incomes, and bring us to food security.”