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‘Dismal agriculture budget worsens Philippine food sufficiency’

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The meager budget allocation for the agriculture sector over the years has resulted in the decline in the country’s self-sufficiency level and has sunk more farmers into poverty and hunger, according to research and advocacy group IBON Foundation.

IBON has called on the government to boost funding for the farm sector next year and provide a substantial stimulus package for local farmers and fisherfolk.

It argued that the government has long been neglecting the sector which in turn forced the country to increase its dependence on imports for many commodities.

For its 2022 budget, the Department of Agriculture has proposed over P250 billion, but the Department of Budget and Management only approved P91 billion, just a percent higher than last year’s allocation.

Over the past five years, less than four percent of the total national budget is being allocated for agriculture and agrarian reform.

IBON said lawmakers should approve the Makabayan bloc’s P94.7 billion in budget amendments for local palay procurement, production subsidy to farmers and fishers.

The group also suggested a stimulus package of P220 billion in agricultural support.

“Production support for small farmers and fisherfolk as part of a larger economic stimulus program is even more urgent,” IBON said.

The group maintained that the low prioritization is exacerbating the already declining state of the sector.

Agriculture only managed to grow by an average of 1.6 percent and its contribution to the economy fell to just 9.8 percent under the Duterte administration.

Further, import dependency of the country across major commodities also increased such as in rice, pork and fish, among others. Deficit also surged to an average of $7.7 billion.

IBON maintained that the poor state of the sector is resulting in poverty and loss of livelihoods for stakeholders with poverty incidence averaging much higher than the national level.

“Long term food self-sufficiency depends on a government that truly gives this priority and strengthens domestic agriculture with significant protection and support,” IBON said.

“A robust agricultural sector will help create more jobs, raise incomes, and spur economic activity,” it said.

IBON FOUNDATION
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