At least 12-million Filipino farmers and fisherfolks stand to benefit from the proposed P122-billion budget of the Department of Agriculture for next year, Senator Cynthia Villar said on Sunday.
“We are hopeful that the proposed 2019 budget of DA will realize our goal of lifting Filipino farmers and fisherfolks out of poverty particularly rice and coconut farmers, who make up seven million of the 12-million farmers in the country,” said Villar.
Villar, chairman of the committee on agriculture and food, said DA’s budget is 3.34 percent of the proposed national budget amounting to P3.757 trillion.
Under next year’s proposed budget, Villar said at least P20 billion was realigned to provide for standby appropriations for the rice and coconut farmers.
Villar, sponsor of the bill in the Senate, also highlighted the P10-billion Rice Fund, the most significant component of the rice tariffication bill which will be spent to improve competitiveness and productivity of farmers.
The Rice Fund will be allocated as follows:
• 50 percent wil go to the Philippine Center for Post Harvest Development and Modernization to provide farmers with rice farm machineries and equipment;
• 30 percent will be released to the Philippine Rice Research Institute 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;
• 10 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; and
• 10 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/ technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.
“The P10 billion has also been earmarked for the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Fund to increase the income of coconut farmers and to support the developmental activities of the Philippine Coconut Authority. We are on track in removing the barriers that keep Filipino farmers and fisherfolks from being more competitive and profitable,” Villar said.