Sec. Piñol answers issues and concerns raised by the NAF Council members during the meeting. Listening to him are Undersecretary for Policy and Planning, Project Development, Research and Regulations Segfredo Serrano and Undesecretary for Operations Ariel Cayanan

Members of the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAF Council) approved to endorse the proposed Php123.7 billion budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for fiscal year 2019.

Composed of representatives of the different government agencies, private entities, civil society organizations (CSOs), non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations, and farmers and fisherfolk groups, the NAF Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, convened on April 24, 2018 at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Convention Hall.

The NAF Council promotes consensus on and support for national agency and LGU budgets to finance programs and projects for agricultural and fisheries modernization.

During the meeting, it was reported that the agriculture and fisheries gross value added (GVA) grew by 4.0% in 2017, recovering from a decline of -1.2% in 2016. It has exceeded the Philippine Development Plan Targets for 2017 and was lauded as the highest growth rate in ten years.

Aside from the interventions the DA crafted, the NAF Council members also recommended a subsidized crop insurance for farmers, aside from more accessible credit windows with low interest rates.

In support to the completion of the Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) Development Program, Sec. Piñol has already proposed to Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez that banks that do not comply with the Agri-Agra Law provision on allotting 25% of their portfolio for loans, instead of accepting loan, should buy FMR bonds to finance the critical FMR network in the country.

To come up with a functional and more efficient budget plan, Raul Montemayor, Chairperson of the Committee on Food Staples and Committee on International Trade suggested to establish guidelines to ensure the substantive participation of the private sector in the whole budget planning cycle.

Moreover, Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture Chairperson Isagani Serrano proposed to come up with a centralized budget planning that originates from the grassroots level.

“The budget process is not really cast in stone. We are still open to adjustments for the good of the sector,” Sec. Piñol said.

DA’s commitment for 2019

Sec. Piñol and stakeholders pay attention as Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice Chairperson Dr. William Co gives his concern on the 2019 plan and budget proposal

The proposed 2019 budget, which will be submitted to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), is Php61.2 billion or 97.96% higher than this year’s budget under the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

To achieve its commitment for next year, the Department proposed to increased its budget for Rice Program to promote rice self-sufficiency worth Php13.5 billion. The proposed budget for the other DA programs are as follows: livestock, Php1.5 billion; corn, Php3.8 billion; high value crops, Php2.4 billion; organic agriculture, Php770.9M; and fisheries (operations), Php19.8 billion.

By 2019, Php76 million will be allotted for the Halal Food Industry Development Program; Php2.8 billion for the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP); Php21.6 billion for Farm-to-Market Roads; and Php1 billion budget for Special Area for Agricultural Development Program (SAAD).

Under the budget proposal, funds for locally funded projects is Php25.4 billion; Php3.3 billion for foreign assisted projects and Php2.2 billion for Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF). – LC