The National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAF Council) recommended the endorsement and approval of the PhP270.6-Billion Plan and Budget Proposal (PBP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for Fiscal Year 2023 on May 24, 2022.

The total PBP amount included the proposed budget of the National Irrigation Administration given its recent transfer to DA as an attached agency from the Office of the President on April 25, 2022 through Executive Order No. 168, series of 2022.

The Council, led by its Vice-Chairperson and DA Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and Research Fermin Adriano, thoroughly discussed the proposal presented by DA Assistant Secretary-designate for Planning and Project Development Agnes Catherine Miranda.

She reported the state of the Philippine Agriculture and Fishery Sector, leading to the budget appropriations for each DA banner programs such as Rice, Corn, Livestock, High-Value Crops Development, and Fisheries. 

She noted that 2021 has been a difficult year for Filipino farmers and fishers with the continuing pandemic that affected food delivery, access, and mobilization. Added to this was the spread of animal diseases, particularly the African Swine Fever (ASF) and the Avian Influenza A (H5N1), that brought burden to the farms and market.

“In 2021, the value of production in agri and fisheries at constant 2018 prices went down by 0.3%. The decline may also be attributed to the PhP19.38 billion-worth of damages caused by the onslaught of Typhoons Odette and Bising as well drought and flash floods experienced in the past year,” ASec. Miranda added.

She also mentioned that the oil market poses uncontrollable increases in petroleum prices that will result in high logistics and freight cost of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, feeds and biologics. 

Given this, DA also identified and allocated budget in these priority areas: Balanced Fertilization, Local Feed Development, Irrigation System, Hog Repopulation, Fisheries, Logistics and Mobilization, and National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan 2021-2030 Operationalization.

National Banner Program Committee on Poultry, Livestock and Corn (NBPC on PLC) Chairperson Dr. Arnulfo Frontuna pointed out that the proposed budget for the Livestock Program may not be sufficient to effectively reboot and revitalize the industry, given the impact of ASF in hog production.

He also commented that higher budget appropriation shall be given to the dairy industry seeing its high potential and increasing demand for the National Feeding Program of the Department of Education, in accordance with Republic Act 11037 or the Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act.

ASec. Miranda responded that these suggestions were carefully considered in the budget proposals of DA agencies related to the PLC industry.

On the other hand, NBPC on High Value Crops-Coffee and Cacao Chairperson David Santos and National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council Representative Engr. Jaydrick Yap both raised the need for postharvest facilities for their respective industries which was duly noted by the Council.

Jesus Las Marias of System of Rice Intensification (SRI)-Pilipinas also recommended focusing the budget of the National Rice Program (NRP) towards decreasing the cost of production to make domestically-produced rice more competitive. He emphasized the potential of SRI as an effective, cost-efficient, and environment-friendly technology in increasing rice productivity that can be adopted through NRP.

USec. Adriano responded that this suggestion can be endorsed to the incoming DA Secretary but as of now, the FY 2023 budget proposal prioritizes the macro-perspective of the agriculture industry. 

Nevertheless, he explained to the industry stakeholders that the DA budget proposal can still be amended during the deliberations with the Department of Budget and Management and the Congress, which will be conducted until the end of 2022.

The motion for endorsement and approval was made after clarifying that all comments and recommendations of the private sector partners during this meeting and all previous Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries-led budget-related consultations will be incorporated as annexes in the Budget Preparation Form of the DA FY 2023 PBP.  This was assured by USec. Adriano. | JCL