Senate approves ₱122-B DA budget
The Senate on Friday approved the proposed ₱122-billion budget for the Department of Agriculture led by Secretary Manny Piñol.
Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, chairperson of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee, said the DA budget for the coming fiscal year is 3.34 percent of the proposed national budget amounting to ₱3.757 trillion.
But with a scheduled briefing tomorrow morning for senators on a request by the military for an extension of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao and a probable joint Senate and House of Representatives session on the matter Wednesday, it is likely that the proposed 2019 ₱3.757-trillion national budget might not be approved before the two legislative chambers go on a month-long Christmas recess starting Dec. 15.
The approval of the DA budget followed a sponsorship speech by Villar and a subsequent floor debate.
“We are hopeful, Mr. President (Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III) that the proposed 2019 budget of DA will realize our goal of lifting Filipino farmers and fisherfolk out of poverty. Particularly rice and coconut farmers who make up for seven million of the 12 million farmers in the country since under next year’s proposed budget, we have realigned ₱20 billion to provide for standby appropriations for the rice and coconut farmers,” Villar said in her sponsorship speech.
Of the total budget, ₱15.70 billion was earmarked for programs and ₱14.97 billion for projects. The programs are:
– National Rice Program, ₱7.41 billion.
– National Livestock, ₱1.05 billion.
– National Corn, ₱1.53 billion. – National High Value Crops,
– National Organic Agriculture,
– Halal Food Industry Development, ₱44.63 million.
– Other Regular Programs, ₱3.63 billion.
Villar also highlighted the ₱10-billion Rice Fund, the most significant component of the rice tariffication bill which would be spent to improve competitiveness and productivity of farmers.
Under the Rice Fund, 50 percent will go to the Philippine Center for Post Harvest Development and Modernization to provide farmers with rice farm machineries and equipment;
Thirty percent will be released to the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Laguna to be used for the development, propagation, and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and the organization of rice farmers into seed growers associations engaged in seed production and trade;
Ten percent will be made available in the form of credit facility with minimal interest rates and with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives to be managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines;
Ten percent will be set aside to fund extension services by PhilMech, Agricultural Training Institute, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for teaching skills on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and knowledge and technology transfer through farm schools nationwide. (Mario B. Casayuran)