Legarda: 2018 Budget to Sustain Growth in the Agriculture Sector

December 21, 2017

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the 2018 national budget, which was already signed by the President into law, will further boost progress for the more than 11 million farmers and fisherfolks in the country.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said that the approved budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and attached agencies for next year is Php110.075 Billion, the 7th highest allocation in the 2018 budget.

Citing figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Legarda noted that agriculture recorded a 4.64% growth in output in the first nine months of 2017 due to production gains in the crops, livestock, and poultry subsectors. She also said that the gross value of production in agriculture amounted to Php382.5 Billion, following current prices, a 6.27% increase than the previous year’s record.

“The Philippines is an agricultural country. It is imperative for us to sustain progress in the agriculture sector and ensure that there is enough support to address the needs and concerns of our farmers and fisherfolks,” Legarda said.

The Senator emphasized that the 2018 budget will strengthen the national programs of agriculture agencies; provide for the equipment, machinery, facility, and infrastructure needs of our farmers and fisherfolks; and build their capacity to combat climate change and reduce disaster risks; as well as conduct research and development for the growth of the sector.

Legarda said that Php20.2 Billion is for the national programs for rice, corn, high value crops development, organic agriculture and livestock; and Php4.186 Billion for the National Fisheries Program.

She added that, as in the current year, the government will continue to subsidize irrigation service fees being paid by farmers to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) for next year.

The DA will also have Php2.669 Billion for the construction, restoration, or improvement of small-scale irrigation projects, while Php4.281 Billion is allocated for the construction of facilities and procurement of machineries and equipment.

The amount of Php9.958 Billion is allocated for the construction, rehabilitation and repair of farm-to-market roads (FMR), which will be geo-tagged and will lead to arterial or secondary roads and key agricultural production areas.

Furthermore, a Php395 Million funding for the implementation of extension support, education, and training services of the national corn program will include Php10 Million for corn-based farmer-scientist research, development, and extension training program.

Additionally, the amount of Php1.05 Billion under the Agro-Industry Modernization Credit and Financing Program Administration will be transferred to government financial institutions (GFIs), cooperative banks, rural banks, and viable non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to be used exclusively for the establishment of a flexible credit facility for the benefit of small farmers and fisherfolks.

In order to reduce disaster risks and build resilience against the impacts of climate change, the DA shall provide support for agriculture communities to be attuned to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction through the implementation of disaster-resilient agriculture infrastructure projects, distribution and development of climate-resilient seeds, capacity building on renewable energy and energy efficiency, and the conduct of seminars for local government units (LGUs) and farmers on the importance of ecological solid waste management, rainwater catchments, and organic farming approaches, among other elements of sustainable land use.

Legarda also mentioned that Php1 Billion Quick Response Fund (QRF) under the DA shall serve as a standby fund to be used for provision of seeds and other planting materials, fingerlings and fries, livestock, minor fishing paraphernalia and minor repair of small-scale irrigation systems to normalize the living conditions of people living in communities and areas stricken by calamities, epidemics, crises, and catastrophes. The NIA also has QRF in the amount of Php500 Million.

“Our farmers and fisherfolks feed the entire nation, yet they remain among the poorest sectors. With the increased funding for the agriculture sector in the 2018 budget, we signify the importance of their role to provide sustenance and nutrition to all Filipinos and their capacity to lead our country towards a food-secure future,” Legarda concluded.