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Next gov’t must hike agri infusions



Photo : Department of Agriculture

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar said the next administration, expected to be led by presumptive President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., should triple the current budget of the food sector to usher in long-term growth.

“Triple the budget to at least P250 billion a year. Absent that, I cannot propose better solutions,” Dar said in a webinar hosted by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines.

“I hope the new administration understands the enormity of the responsibility we face at the moment in agriculture,” he added.

The DA chief recommended an annual budget of P250 billion, which he said “is sufficient to implement a long-term vision of commodity industry development, significant agricultural infrastructure development including our agri-industrial business corridors, among others, and attain food sovereignty.”

The looming food crisis, which he said was ascertained by experts and analysts worldwide, can be attributed to the disruption of the global supply chain brought by the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Agri gameplan

Under the Duterte administration, Dar formed the National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan — a strategic guidebook for agricultural development from 2021-2030.

“It establishes and words our vision for the next ten years, assuming hefty budgetary prioritization of the sector as a national policy. And we adamantly say, this prioritization must come to pass, else, the food crisis could threaten national security,” he said.

For the first quarter, the Philippine Statistics Authority said the production value of agriculture and fisheries at constant 2018 prices contracted by 0.3 percent.

Despite the slight decline, Dar said he remains optimistic that the livestock sub-sector will continue to recover amid the unresolved African swine fever outbreak.

Poultry registered expansion during the period while crops, livestock and fisheries posted declines in the value of production.

“The slight dip in the growth of crops and livestock sub-sectors, all things considered, the livestock sub-sector is rebounding from its negative growth last year.

Our Achilles’ heel was the fisheries sub-sector, which posted the highest contraction of 5.8 percent; crops could have been affected already by skyrocketing fuel and fertilizer prices,” Dar said.