NAF Council members raise their comments and recommendations which were agreed to be considered in the finalization of the 2018 plan and budget proposal. (JC)

The National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAF Council) has unanimously approved the proposed Php213.2 billion budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for fiscal year 2018.

In a meeting presided by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on April 6, 2017 at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Convention Hall, the NAF Council members composed of representatives of the different government agencies, private entities, civil society organizations (CSOs), non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations, and farmers and fisherfolks groups supported the 2018 plan and budget proposal for the agriculture and fishery sectors.

The proposed 2018 budget, which will be submitted to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), is Php162 billion or 316% higher than this year’s budget under the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

The budget was crafted to achieve the following thrusts and priorities: sustainably increased productivity, intensified assistance to agri-fishery enterprises/small farmers and fisherfolk, and make available easy access financing for farmers, fihserfolks, and agriculture and fisheries stakeholders.

The DA has proposed Php347.7 million for agri-fishery policy services and Php32 billion for technical and support services, which include production support services; market development services; extension support, education and training services; and research and development.

A budget of Php27 billion has been proposed for irrigation network services, with Php92.8 million for farm-to-market road network services, Php9.5 billion for agricultural and fishery equipment, machinery and facilities support services, Php10.8 billion for agriculture and fishery regulatory services, and Php50.5 billion for credit services.

The department increased its budget for rice program to promote rice self-sufficiency worth Php43.3 billion. The proposed budget for the other DA programs are as follows: livestock, Php2.4 billion; corn, Php3.5 billion; high value crops, Php3 billion; organic agriculture, Php895.4M; and fisheries (operations), Php14.8 billion.

By 2018, Php44 million will be allotted for the Halal Food Industry Development Program; Php7.9 billion for the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP); Php42.8 billion for Farm-to-market Roads; and Php1.2 billion budget for Special Area for Agricultural Development Program (SAAD).

Aside from the key programs and projects, the department will also recognize the recommendations from the NAF Council members.

These include establishment of solar-powered irrigation systems, increase enforcement activities in line with RA 10654, support to the establishment of clonal and seed gardens, and promotion of sustainable management and replenishing the degraded land and water resources, among others.

Sec. Piñol assured that the DA’s proposed budget and plan for 2018 will be efficiently utilized and properly implemented.

“The current administration, especially the DA, is strongly enforcing the necessary measures to fight corruption. The current administration should be given the chance to prove to the public that they will promote transparency in all levels of government,” he said.

He also added that he has directed all DA bureaus and attached agencies to ensure the utilization of at least 90% of their budget per quarter, as well as monitor and guarantee the efficient spending of these funds.– LC