Philippine. ‘Lack of funds hurt government bid to hit rice-sufficiency goal’
The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it would have to delay its target of achieving rice sufficiency by another year, as it does not have enough funds to bankroll necessary interventions to prop up output.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said it would be difficult for his department to hit its rice-sufficiency goal by 2019 sans an increase in the budget of the DA.
“We have to make adjustments because of the nonavailability of funds. What will I do if there’s no budget to avail irrigation systems and other planting materials?” Piñol said in an interview with reporters on March 14.
He said, however, that House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez had promised to increase the budget of the DA for next year.
Earlier, Piñol said he would need at least P400 billion to hit the rice-sufficiency goal in two years.
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 in an earlier interview.
“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.
Data sent to reporters on March 15 showed that the government’s rice production target for this year is 18.57 million metric tons (MMT), 5.33 percent higher than last year’s output of 17.63 MMT.
The 18.57-MMT target production this year would translate into a 90 percent self-sufficiency ratio (SSR), according to data from the DA.
Next year the DA’s goal is to harvest 20.34 MMT of paddy rice, from 4.84 million hectares.
SSR is the extent to which a country’s local production of commodities is adequate enough to meet the demand of the whole population, according to the Philippine Statistics