April 17, 2024

The Department of Agriculture will push for its banner programs for 2023 to increase prime commodity production in the country, including more than 20 million metric tons of rice.

During a budget hearing at the House of Representatives, DA Asec. Arnel de Mesa said they have doubled the proposed fund for the National Rice Program from P15.8 billion this year to P30.5B in 2023, to address the projected rice production decline.

He added out of P30.5B, the DA targets to allocate P19.5B for fertilizer assistance, “which will bring us to about 20.4 million metric tons (of rice) by 2023, the volume of production.”

Previous DA leaders had earlier warned of a looming food crisis, especially on rice, corn and other basic commodities amid high prices of farm inputs.

De Mesa also elaborated plans to realize their “historical targets,” in line with the food sufficiency priority of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

He noted that although there is still a “high level of obligation” for its banner programs, the DA has already tapped its regional offices to spend all unobligated funds until December.

Asked by some lawmakers about an unobligated fund worth P29.2B, the DA official said some programs under automatic appropriations are yet to be awarded before the year ends.

The DA said it will provide a geographical breakdown of the additional P21B it is asking for the national expenditure program, which is said to be a 107 percent increase, following the inquiry on supposedly low allocation in some regions like Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Eastern Visayas, which were significantly affected by previous calamities. These funds include expenditure on agricultural equipment, facilities, and infrastructure for farm-to-market roads, small-scale irrigation, types of machinery and a small portion of personal services.PNA