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Food security in pandemic spurs DA’s call for ₧250B

Agriculture Secretary William Dar

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday said it is proposing a budget of P250 billion next year, which is “three times” higher than its P85 billion this year, to sustain its efforts to ensure the country’s food security.

The DA makes the pitch despite concerns over thinner budgetary space for departments in light of the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling next year, which hikes the funding for local government units (LGUs) by at least P234 billion.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar pointed out that the “potentials” of the agriculture sector “could be further unleashed” if it is given “appropriate” budgetary support, including “much-needed” private sector investments as well as financing from LGUs.

“For 2022, we are proposing a budget of P250 billion, which is three times more than this year,” Dar said in a statement.

“We pray that the country’s agriculture sector could be afforded that long-delayed financial support so the Philippines could keep pace at least with our counterparts in the Asean region,” he added.

Dar said the government will “further strengthen” the delivery of extension services and provision of technical and marketing assistance through better cooperation with LGUs and other concerned stakeholders.

Dar added that the DA will continue to work with the LGUs as well as state universities and colleges and the private sector to ensure smooth transition to the Province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Systems (PAFES), a program that seeks to fast-track agriculture growth through local government leadership.

“PAFES would serve as the modality of implementing banner programs in the provinces. Under the system, we at the national government will do the steering while, the LGUs will do the rowing,” the DA chief said.

“Agricultural extension and advisory services play a crucial role in boosting agricultural productivity and income, increasing food security, improving rural livelihood, and promoting agriculture as an engine of inclusive, pro-poor economic growth,” Dar added.

Dar explained that the PAFES will “help boost the capabilities of provincial LGUs in implementing agri-fishery extension services, and integrating multiple programs of the department.”

“We have to understand that agriculture is local. Agriculture is provincial. Therefore, the LGUs are in a much better position in identifying and supplying these services that would bring more progress to the countryside, and make the country food-secure and resilient,” he said.

“We will continue to push for the transformation of Philippine agriculture into a modernized and industrialized sector under the OneDA reform agenda, which we have been espousing since we took over in August 2019,” he added.

Dar said the government is keen on improving farm and fishery productivity “by showing and convincing our farmers and fishers to adopt modern and innovative technologies.”

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