Dar expecting new gov’t to raise agri budget

AGRICULTURE Secretary William D. Dar said he expects the next administration to raise spending on the agriculture sector and raise his department’s budgets accordingly.

“I believe that the next administration will have that political will, that ability to give the top most priority (to) the sector of agriculture and the budget would be the level of double (or triple) the present budget,” he said in a briefing.

“The counting is not yet over but indications are that a Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. presidency is in the offing…We would like to congratulate the 17th President of the Republic of the Philippines. We must unite and support the presidency of Mr. Marcos,” he added.

In response to Mr. Marcos’ proposal to bring down rice prices to P20 per kilogram, Mr. Dar said that it was likely he meant palay, or unmilled rice.

“I surmise that the P20 per kilo rice is for palay not for rice. We have a present farmgate price of palay which is P19, so increasing that to P20 is very viable,” he said.

Mr. Dar said that the succeeding agriculture secretary will take on the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) 10-year modernization plan, which represents the next phase of the current “OneDA” reform agenda.

The National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan (NAFMIP) aims to improve the resilience of agri-fishery communities and the quality of life of farmers and fisherfolk.

The plan will need funding of P2.5 trillion over the course of 10 years.

“There will be many other agenda items for the upcoming administration,” he said.

“The incoming administration will hopefully consider this NAFMIP strategy plan for the next 10 years to unleash the potential of Filipino agriculture,” he added.

Mr. Dar also said that the agriculture sector needs more support from the public and private sectors and more bilateral agreements with other countries to deal with the global food crisis. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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