DA needs P400 billion to hit rice-sufficiency goal

03.03.2017

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it would require a budget of P400 billion to fund the necessary interventions to increase palay production and ensure that the Philippines would have sufficient rice by 2019.

“If the [national government] will just give me the money, a lot of things can happen. All I need is two years,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol told reporters in a recent interview.

“You cannot expect the DA to produce enough food for the country if we do not have the budget for it. If you want the DA to produce food, then give us the money. I will not steal it,” Piñol added.

He said the DA is asking for a budget of P200 billion for next year and 2019. The bulk of the budget would be allocated for “improving the value chain of the rice sector”.

To boost rice output, the DA is targeting to establish solar-powered irrigation systems, procure hybrid-rice seeds and provide postharvest facilities.

Of the proposed budget, Piñol said P50 billion would be allocated for a program aimed at expanding farmers’ access to affordable loans.

“What the DA is asking is just about one-third of the budget of the Department of Education and less than half of the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways,” he said.

“Our current budget now is even smaller than the budget given to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program,” Piñol added.

The DA has an approved budget of P45.29 billion for this year, 7.46 percent lower than the agency’s 2016 budget of P48.94 billion.

The Aquino administration had set its sights on achieving rice self-sufficiency by 2013. Despite the billions of pesos poured into the government’s National Rice Program, the DA failed to increase unmilled-rice output to at least 20 million metric tons (MMT).

According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), unmilled-rice output even declined in the last two years. In 2015 palay output reached 18.14 MMT, 4.31 percent lower than the 18.96 MMT produced in 2014. Last year output also declined by 2.88 percent to
17.62 MMT.

The government attributed this to the damages caused by strong typhoons and El Niño.

El Niño also caused total farm output last year to contract by 1.41 percent.

The production of the crops subsector, which account for more than half of agriculture output, declined by 2.62 percent.


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