Legarda Supports DA’s Programs for Sustainable Agri, Urges Use of Unobligated Funds

October 4, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda today expressed her support for the programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to improve agricultural productivity, increase the income of farmers, and promote food security and sustainable farming as she urged the agency to ensure that unobligated funds are spent.

During the hearing on the proposed 2017 budget of the DA, Legarda, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, said she supports the Department’s program to give free irrigation to farmers to increase productivity and hopes it can be done within the year if the DA can use its remaining unobligated funds under the 2015 budget.

“As with other agencies, the DA also has unobligated funds for 2015 which will revert to treasury if unspent by the end of 2016. I urge the Department to use it, if possible, to start its free irrigation program. We have a lot of needs in the agriculture sector and I am sure these funds can be realigned to address some of the concerns of our farmers and farming communities,” she said.

Legarda also asked the DA to continue its convergence efforts with the state weather bureau, PAGASA, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to protect our watersheds, which are vital to agriculture.

The Senator noted that forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater. A study of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) showed that agriculture uses as much as 50% of freshwater in many countries and up to 90% in some developing countries.

“The DA should give inputs to DENR to help in its reforestation efforts so that watershed areas that are vital to agriculture will be among those prioritized in the National Greening Program (NGP) budget,” said Legarda.

Legarda also expressed support to the partnership between the DA and the Department of Education (DepEd) in using the Gulayan sa Paaralan program to re-introduce basic agriculture in schools.

“We must educate our youth on the importance of farming and the Gulayan sa Paaralan program is an effective way to do this. There should also be rainwater collectors that will be the source of water for the vegetable gardens. I will include a special provision on this program under the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to ensure that it will be done in all public schools in the country,” said Legarda.