A party-list congressman on Monday cited the crucial role that post-harvest facilities such as storage for grain and seeds play in making farming communities more resilient to natural disasters.
“We must stop this vicious cycle where our farmers always register losses because of the lack of storage and other facilities to mitigate the effects of typhoons,” AGRI party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee said in a statement.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) warned on Sunday that more than half of standing or planted rice and corn crops in the country stood to be affected by typhoon Karding.
“Based on the combined data of all regions in Luzon, the total land area of existing crops that may be affected by Karding was 1,469,037 hectares for rice and 281,322 hectares for corn,” the DA said in a bulletin.
The figures make up 75.83 percent of the national standing rice crops and 52.37 percent of the national standing corn crops, it added.
Last week, Lee questioned the DA on why the agency continued to propose low budgets for post-harvest activities despite the recurring problems of farmers on this phase of the agriculture value chain.
During the period of debate in the plenary for the DA’s budget for 2023, it was determined that while P59.96 billion was proposed for pre-harvest activities, only P13 billion was allocated for post-harvest facilities.
“Even if the budget for post-harvest activities is doubled, the strategic problem remains. This is not to say that production is not important. Napakahalaga po niyan dahil kung wala iyan, walang produktong papasok sa merkado. Kailangan talaga ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda ng tulong dahil patuloy na nagsisipagtaasan ang presyo ng equipment, fertilizer, at iba pang farm inputs,” Lee said.
“However, even if we assume that our agri inputs reach our farmers, which currently remains one of your agency’s challenges, and fortunately increase their productivity, we still have to deal with the problem of getting these products ready for the market and consumers,” he added.
According to Lee, the agriculture sector grew by only 0.2 percent for the first two quarters of this year, that is why there is an urgent need to support our post-harvest phase. It was during this point that he called on the DA to recalibrate and restrategize the country’s agriculture value chain to address the sector’s low production.
Lee filed House Bill No. 3958 or the “Post-Harvest Facilities Support Act” compelling the government to construct and provide post-harvest facilities across the country, especially in agricultural areas, to lower post-harvest production losses and increase the income of agriculture workers.