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Duterte pledges P120B to agri sector – Diokno

DAVAO CITY – With President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to ensure food security in the country, Filipino farmers are in for a productive future as Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced the P120-billion budget committed by the president for the agricultural sector.

Speaking in front of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) secretariat, the budget chief and also PARC Executive Committee member assured the farmers that they are the government’s priority, Feb. 1, at the agrarian reform beneficiaries’ (ARBs) forum on the implementation of agribusiness venture agreements (AVA) in Davao City.

Diokno also relayed President Duterte’s greetings to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for all of its efforts in defending and asserting the rights of Filipino farmers. “[Around] P120 billion has been allotted to the agriculture sector for [the next] five years to push for rural development,” he said.

DAR will receive P9.8 billion to reach its target in distributing 48,000 hectares of agricultural lands and extending its support services to farmer-beneficiaries in 2017.

According to Diokno, a total of P46 billion was allocated to the Department of Agriculture (DA) for agricultural research and development, market expansion, agricultural and fisheries support, and construction of farm-to-market roads.

While the diversification of high market value crops was allocated with P4 billion, infrastructure development, and building and repairing of farm-to-market roads and post-harvest facilities were given P7.1 billion.

In addition, at least P51 billion was given to other agencies and corporations involved in agriculture and agrarian reform such as the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) and the National Food Authority (NFA).

A poverty alleviation tool in low-income areas, the Rice Production Enhancement Program (RPEP) was given a budget of P9.7 billion to help farmers increase their production this year and PhilRice was allocated with P561 million to support the development of climate-resilient and high-yielding seeds.

Furthermore, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) was given P2.5 billion to provide assistance to farmers and fisher folks who suffered losses during calamities and the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) was given P811 M to establish a flexible credit facility for agricultural workers and farmers.

Using the P38.4-billion fund, the NIA is expected to extend irrigation services to additional farm lands and repair linings and construct service facilities.

DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano also welcomed DBM’s issuance of the implementing rules and regulations on utilizing the P200-million legal defense fund to support DAR employees who are facing charges for implementing the agrarian reform law.

Mariano, in his speech, told the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) that DAR is formulating a new policy in the implementation of AVAs to ensure that the rights and welfare of farmers are protected. “Control over agricultural lands must always be at the hands of farmers,” he added.

For his part, Region XI Director John Maruhom thanked the PARC for finally looking into the implementation of AVAs as his office already initiated a study on this since they have the most number of ARBs engaged in agribusiness.

Other officials present during the opening are PARC Secretary and Undersecretary for Finance, Planning and Administration Atty. David Erro, Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Sylvia Mallari, Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Luis Pañgulayan, Undersecretary for Support Services Rosalina Bistoyong, Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Lucius Malsi, PARC Director James Ponce, and DBM Regional Director Gary Martel. (DA)


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