NGOs seek additional P17B for DA


Jennifer Ng, Reporter


25 October 2010

NONGOVERNMENT organizations (NGOs) have urged senators to add P17.7 billion to the budget of the Department of Agriculture and to channel the bulk of the amount to its attached agencies with rice production and credit provision.


NGOs belonging to the Alternative Budget Initiative of Social Watch Philippines said 63 percent of the amount should be allocated to the National Food Authority (NFA), the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), and Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp. (Quedancor).


”As our rice farmers in Northern and Central Luzon brace for Supertyphoon Juan and as we anticipate more incidences of extreme and unpredictable weather conditions, the least that the government can do is to protect the farmers’ livelihood and reduce their families’ vulnerability to the damaging impacts of climate change,” said Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) Lead Convenor Jessica Reyes-Cantos.


R1 asked the senators deliberating on the budget to allocate P9 billion for the NFA to allow it to buy the farmers’ palay and corner 5 percent of the country’s national requirements or around 553,000 metric tons.


The group also asked the senators to review the agriculture budget in the General Appropriations Act recently approved by the House of Representatives, wherein the NFA did not get budget allocation.


“With most of the farmers’ produce possibly wet and drenched due to heavy rains brought about by Typhoon Juan, the farmers will be at the mercy of local rice traders who will most likely tie the prices of palay at its lowest levels unless the government is able to decisively influence the market,” said Cantos.

The rice NGO also sought a P2-billion budgetary support for Quedancor to be used for credit support at negotiated rates to agricultural producers.

According to Cantos, providing credit support will help the farmers cope with the damage and bounce back and start all over again because they have families to feed, children to send to school, and other basic necessities to address also.


Another R1 proposal is to help augment the budgetary support to PhilRice in the amount of P200 million to support the Supplementary Program on Income Diversification through the Palayamanan strategy.


”Diversified farming technology was found to be one of the most viable adaptation strategies for the farmers so they need not dependent on rice farming only. This will entail more rigorous extension work for Diversified Integrated Farming System to help increase farm and farmers’ productivity,” Cantos explained.


The group proposed to transfer a number of contestable budget-line items from the 2011 National Expenditure Program amounting to almost P96 billion to fund these proposals.


R1 is one of the members of the agriculture cluster of Alternative Budget Initiative of Social Watch Philippines. Among the proposals of the group is to review, reduce and realign the budget for agriculture amounting to P27.7 billion, that was directed to lump-sum expenditure items in the Office of the Agriculture Secretary for “locally-funded projects” which should result in the accomplishment of identifiable outputs within a designated period.









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