THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

DA seeks bigger 2021 budget

Author: DA Communications Group | 9 July 2020

Underscoring the crucial contribution of the agri-fishery sector in the Philippine economic recovery and national development efforts, the Department of Agriculture is seeking a bigger budget in 2021, totaling P284.4 billion (B), more than thrice its current budget of P79.9B.

“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, during a teleconference with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture and Food, chaired by Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga on July 8, 2020.

“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 (P61.8B) and new (P222.6B) 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 – P56B;
  • Fisheries – P22.5B;
  • High-value crops – P13.7B;
  • Livestock and poultry – P11.2B; and
  • Corn – P6.6B.

It also wishes to spend P130B to bankroll locally-funded projects, construction of farm-to-market roads, implementation of national soil health, and young farmers’ programs; P7.15B as counterpart for foreign-assisted projects such as the Philippine Rural Development Project; market development services – P3B; and organic agriculture – 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,” Secretary Dar told the lawmakers.

For his part, Representative Enverga said they fully agree with the need to grant the DA the rightful budget to realize the full potential of the country’s agriculture sector.

However, given the magnitude of the proposed 2021 DA budget, which is triple its current appropriations, Enverga noted that this could just be a ‘wish list’ at the moment, unless resolved and approved.

To which, secretary Dar replied: “What lies in your hands right now is the food security and resiliency of the country, the future of the 109 million Filipinos and counting.” ### (Rita dela Cruz, DA StratComms)

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