Low agri budget for 2024: Group says it shows farming not priority | Inquirer News

Low agri budget for 2024: Group says it shows farming not priority

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @inquirerdotnet
/ 04:26 PM August 25, 2023

Lower agri budget for 2024: Group says it shows farming not priority


MANILA, Philippines—While the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) budget for next year is expected to increase by 6.15 percent, the sector’s share to the national budget is still scant, a reflection of the government’s “non-priority of agriculture and food.”

This was pointed out by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Tuesday (Aug. 22) as the House of Representatives deliberated on the proposed budget for the DA, an agency headed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself.


According to Speaker Martin Romualdez on Aug. 2, the proposed national budget for next year, which is worth P5.768 trillion, will prioritize boosting agricultural production and reducing the cost of transportation.


READ: 2024 nat’l budget to boost agri, transport–Romualdez


GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

According to data from the DA, it is seeking a budget of P167 billion for 2024, down by 54 percent compared to the earlier proposed P396 billion. However, the P167 billion is still higher than the P157 billion this year.

READ: DA trims budget request by 58%

The DA said out of the proposed budget, bulk, or 71.50 percent, will be for maintenance and other operating expenses, while capital outlay and personnel services will receive 24.51 percent and 3.99 percent.

‘Not enough’

KMP, however, pointed out that the proposed budget for agriculture and food, including the budget for the Department of Agrarian Reform, is still meager compared to allocations for military spending, debt interest payments, and infrastructure.

This, as the P167 billion for the DA next year is only 2.90 percent of P5.768 trillion.


GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

According to KMP, the budget set aside for the Department of National Defense, Philippine National Police, and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is way higher than the budget earmarked for domestic rice industry and food production.

Looking back, Malacañang had said Marcos would exhaust all efforts to ensure food security, with the President himself directing the National Food Authority to prioritize rice production.


READ: NFA told to prioritize rice production over importation

“Contrary to the President’s claim, agriculture and food security are not [the] real priorities of this administration,” Ronnie Manalo, secretary general of KMP, said in a statement.

RELATED STORY: DA reports increase in rice production

KMP stressed that only over P30.9 billion is proposed for DA’s National Rice Program (NRP) while P1.246 trillion was requested for Marcos’ Build, Better, More, the government’s infrastructure program.

“Based on our computation, for every peso spent for local rice production, the government will spend a higher P40 for national roads, bridges, airports, and other infra[structure] projects,” Manalo said.

DA’s programs

According to Department of Budget and Management data, most of the proposed allocation for the DA will be set aside for Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) and Farm-to-Market Road Projects.

Over 100 billion is set aside for Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Program, while a bulk is earmarked for DA’s national programs. But there are “salient items” that the DA presented in the deliberations.


GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

It said out of its proposed P167 billion for next year, the DA said P9.80 billion will be for the implementation of hybrid seed assistance through discount voucher and/or Interventions Monitoring Card (IMC) under the NRP.

At least P9.55 billion is expected to be allocated for the implementation of fertilizer assistance through discount vouchers and/or IMC cards under the same program, the DA said. Almost P3 million, meanwhile, will be for the Agricultural Credit Program.

Likewise, P2.49 billion is earmarked for the implementation of Yellow Corn Production Enhancement Program for Seeds and Fertilizers, while the Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion Program will receive P2.22 billion.

Marcos’ Kadiwa Program, meanwhile, will get P492.70 million.

‘Not for all’

But aside from the “mispriorities” in the national budget, KMP took note of the limited beneficiaries of the DA’s programs and projects, too, compared to the millions of farmers and fisherfolk in need of immediate assistance and agriculture subsidies.

RELATED STORY: Farmers missing in equation as gov’t aims for higher agri yields

KMP said the DA failed to distribute a total of 855,493 bags of rice seeds meant for farmers under the RCEF, although the DA pointed out that it has distributed 2.08 million bags of rice seeds.

DA also failed to distribute 2,088 pieces of farm machinery, KMP said, referring to COA’s statement that the non-distribution of the seeds and equipment deprived the farmers of their needed assistance.

The undistributed farm machinery includes 942 hand tractors, 599 floating tillers, 329 reapers, and 215 recirculating dryers. Based on the DA presentation, however, 2,666 farm machinery equipment were distributed.

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According to KMP, it will propose a higher budget for domestic rice production and significant agricultural subsidies for farmers, fisherfolks, and stakeholders in food production.

RELATED STORY: Lowering price of rice to P20 a kilogram ‘difficult’ – DA execs

TAGS: Bongbong Marcos, INQFocus, KMP, national budget, NFA

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