NGOs seek higher NFA budget


James Konstantin Galvez

Manila Times

10 Nov. 2010



A NON-GOVERNMENT organization is pushing Congress to raise the rice procurement budget of the National Food Authority (NFA). While it welcomed the P2.5 billion in the 2011 budget for the NFA’s palay procurement, Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) said “this amount can buy only 147,048 tons of palay at P17 per kilo or approximately only 1 percent of total palay production of the country.”

Jessica Cantos, R1 lead convenor, said the group is proposing that the NFA be given P9 billion so it could corner at least 4 percent of total local palay production and provide farmers greater leverage in pricing.

“Farmers responded well to the increase in palay buying price at P17 when government announced it at the height of the rice crisis in 2008. Many farmers have done quick production turn around to take advantage of the high buying price,” Cantos said.

Besides increasing the NFA budget, R1 also called for an audit of the National Irrigation Administration’s
(NIA) program and budget as the agency has already spent about P30 billion in irrigation for the last two years.

The rice self-sufficiency plan of the Department of Agriculture (DA) allotted around P20 billion for irrigation for 2009 to 2013. For 2011, the DA asked for another P12.7-billion budget for irrigation.

“We need to seriously look at how irrigation is being implemented in the country. We know that it is important. However, the agency should operate effective irrigation systems rather than continuously support large-scale irrigation projects that remain useless and without water especially now that we are faced with rising temperatures brought about by climate change,” Cantos said.

R1 said NIA should review its repair and rehabilitation strategy given that the country is almost always hit by typhoons, causing the irrigation systems to be at the receiving end of repair and rehabilitation every year.

“Climate-proofing of the agriculture sector will certainly require a lot of re-designing and re-prioritization in the DA,” Cantos said.









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