BBM at DA is ‘best’ for PHL farmers, fishermen



THE Department of Agriculture (DA) may now get a hefty budget under the leadership of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., industry leaders and former agriculture secretaries said.

Leaders from food production to processing groups have thrown their support behind Marcos Jr.’s plan as the sitting secretary of the DA, saying the agriculture sector will now be given its “much needed” attention.

Two former agriculture secretaries—Emmanuel F. Piñol and Leonardo Q. Montemayor—and outgoing Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar pointed out that Marcos Jr.’s decision would be the “best” for Filipino farmers and fishermen.

“We see this pronouncement as a victory of the Department of Agriculture in rousing broad public support towards the sector’s rehabilitation and empowerment,” Dar said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

“We are heartened, moreover, by the statement of the President, placing agriculture as top governance and budgetary priority. Thus, we expect to see a bigger budget for the Department of Agriculture in the years to come,” Dar added.

Industry leaders and the former secretaries said Marcos Jr. can now easily increase the DA’s budget and “prioritize” domestic production, particularly developing local industries and boosting farmers’ income.

“At long last, the sector will get the support it needs. With [Marcos] Jr. as DA [secretary], who’s the congressman or senator who will block his programs?” Piñol said, partly in Filipino, on Tuesday.

Montemayor said one of the priorities of Marcos Jr. as agriculture chief is to increase “substantially” the DA’s budget “to stimulate domestic production and farm productivity.”

“We believe that the President, sitting as the agriculture chief, has the political and economic capital to respond to the problems affecting the country’s food supply,” Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. President Felix Tiukinhoy Jr.

Rolando Tambago, president of the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc., said Marcos Jr. sitting as the agriculture chief can “easily” influence the department’s bigger budget so as to bankroll projects for food sufficiency and security amid the looming global food crisis.

Dar earlier said the DA’s budget could be doubled or even tripled to a level beyond P100 billion under Marcos Jr.’s administration since the sector is one of his “topmost” priorities.

“We should focus on increasing local production; this is the only way we can compete with imported products,” National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. President Chester Warren Y. Tan said.

Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. President Danilo V. Fausto said the industry can now heave a sigh of relief that domestic food production, logistics and even value chain “will be given priority” in the new administration.

Dar did not mince words in saying that Marcos Jr., as an agriculture chief, will face humongous problems regarding the country’s food supply and prices amid the ongoing global food crisis. (Related story:  https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/06/16/phl-now-feeling-impact-of-food-crisis-da-chief/)

“More than 20 countries have made restrictions on the exports of their food products, and the lingering war in Ukraine continues,” he said.

“So, there is really major disruption of the food supply chain. And so this is a big big problem. If I have to equate this, this is like a pandemic as well,” he added.

In a press conference on Monday, Marcos Jr. announced he decided to oversee the DA personally so as to carry out reforms in the agency to help ensure a stable food supply amid disruptions in the international supply chain. (Related story:  https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/06/21/bbm-to-take-over-da-postamid-steady-food-price-hikes/)

“I think it is important that the President take that portfolio…not only to make…clear to everyone the high priority we put in the agricultural sector, but also as a practical matter so that things move more quickly because the events of the global economy are moving very quickly,” Marcos said.

Image credits: Laila D. Austria



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