Broadcast journalist and senatorial bet Jiggy Manicad’s advocacy to improve the agriculture industry recently got a boost from President Rodrigo Duterte, who offered to increase the Department of Agriculture’s budget tenfold.
During a Cabinet meeting last week, Duterte said he plans to raise the government’s budget for agriculture to meet the demand for more food on the table, given the country’s annual yearly population increase of two million.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the President made assurances that farmers and fisherfolk will be given a bigger share of the national budget next year.
The DA’s budget is currently pegged at P49 billion. Piñol, in news reports, said he was asked by the President to submit 10 times his current budget for 2020.
Manicad lauded the move, saying: “Given Mr. Duterte’s statement, the DA could get an allocation of some P500 billion.”
“My advocacy for more ‘bagsakan’ centers, more farm-to-market roads, more farm implements, and fresh technology for the farmers might not be hard to come by,” Manicad said.
He noted that the budget could also be used to improve existing irrigation facilities and put up new ones in areas that are prone to drought.
The neophyte politician, who graduated from the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna, said irrigated farmlands could harvest three times a year compared to those that depend on rain and only harvest once a year.
With the El Niño climatic changes this year, unirrigated areas may not be able to plant and harvest anything, Manicad noted.
“Farmers would be the most affected, as most of them don’t earn enough with El Nino’s effects,” he said. “Our countrymen would suffer in the long run from lower food supplies. If more funds will be given to the DA, we should focus on irrigation,” he said.
If given the chance to serve in the Senate, Manicad said he would champion the cause of Filipino farmers.
He said fresh faces in the political arena could spur fresh ideas that could result in a better government for the people.