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Philippine Agricultural Secretary Call For More Funding For Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary William Dar has called for more government funding for the industry, noting that the country’s agriculture sector has been neglected in the past several decades.

According to Dar, the government should boost funding given that the budget of agriculture stands at 1.5% of the country’s total funding, versus 3.5% to 6% in other countries.

“I can say emphatically agriculture for the last 40 years have been neglected, underbudgeted, underinvested,” he said in The Mangahas Interviews.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) was earlier seeking to increase its budget by P8 billion–P10 billion from the P91 billion recommended by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). It originally proposed P231 billion.

Dar has since called for a P270-billion budget for the next year, saying that this is the level needed by the industry.

The country’s agriculture output contracted by 0.3% in the first quarter, following the 2.6% growth recorded in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Dar said the additional funds should be used to boost productivity, invest in research and development, and farm mechanization, among other initiatives.

“We need to use more modern technologies and innovations. We need to make agriculture more sexy, we bring in the younger generation to come and make it a more productive, more profitable,” he said.

“Modernization is a continuing objective. Hindi pa napupunuan ‘yung mga kailangan. Mechanization while we have RCEP, ang dami pang kulang. Kakaunti ‘yung P5 billion a year na farm mechanization if you want to be modernized so dapat tuloy tuloy ‘yan at ‘yung level ng budget,” he continued.


[Modernization is a continuing objective. We have not yet fulfilled our needs. Mechanization while we have RCEP, we still have a lot of deficiencies. The P5-billion annual budget is not enough if you want to be modernized so this needs to continue along with the level of the budget.]

Dar was referring to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which seeks to broaden and deepen the engagement among parties and to enhance participation in the economic development of the region.

The secretary noted that under the current scheme, a number of farmers only have 1 hectare of land, losing the economies of scale. The agency has since started consolidating farms, which it aims to do on a national scale this year.

“Our strategy now is to increase productivity per unit area because we don’t have the luxury of expanding our land resources. We have to really up the game in terms of productivity, boosting productivity of the commodities,” he explained.

The same strategy was seen by outgoing Agrarian Reform Secretary Bernie Cruz, who said “mega farms” is the way to bring down prices of rice to P20 per kilogram.

During his campaign, President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said he would recommend a price cap on rice to bring down prices to as low as P20 per kilogram.

He has yet to provide specific details on the plan, which he later noted was an “aspiration.” He added that he has since talked to traders and asked them to freeze prices.

Latest data from the DA show that local commercial rice prices range from P38 to P50 per kilogram, and imported commercial rice from P37 to P50 per kilogram in Metro Manila as of Monday, June 13, 2022. 

Source: https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/money/economy/834778/dar-calls-for-more-agri-funding-wants-to-make-industry-sexy/story/

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