DA wants P35 billion budget for rice program next year

Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas - The Philippine Star
DA wants P35 billion  budget for rice program next year
Photos show workers unloading sacks of rice from a truck along Dagupan St. in Manila on February 7, 2024.
STAR / Ernie Penaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking a 15 percent increase in the budget of its national rice program (NRP) next year to further boost local rice production and ensure country’s food stocks.

The DA is proposing a P35.74 billion fund for the NRP in 2025, 15.7 percent higher than its P30.89 billion allocation this year, based on documents obtained by The STAR.

The NRP is one of the banner and regular programs of the DA focused on improving productivity and competitiveness of rice farmers. The program is separate from the rice competitiveness enhancement fund (RCEF) that was created under Republic Act 11203.

The bulk of the proposed NRP funding or P27.26 billion will still be used for production support services. The amount is 13.1 percent higher than the P24.11-billion allocation this year.

The DA is eyeing a 27.5 percent increase in the extension support services component to P2.61 billion.

Meanwhile, the department wants a P783.94 million fund for the research and development component of the NRP, 30.4 percent higher than its P601.05 million budget this year.

The DA is also proposing higher budget for the NRP’s agricultural equipment and facilities distribution as well as irrigation network services program.

For farm equipment and facilities, the DA is seeking nearly P3.6-billion budget. It is also eyeing a P1.48 billion allocation for the irrigation network services program.

Agriculture Undersecretary Christopher Morales said the proposed increase in the budget next year aims expand areas planted with hybrid seeds, sustain hectarage planted with inbred seeds, as well as address issues on pests and diseases.

The department plans to expand the area planted with hybrid rice by 100,000 hectares next year from this year’s 1.9 million hectares, Morales told The STAR.

The additional funding will also allow the DA to sustain its funding support to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) for the estimated 500,000 hectares planted with inbred rice seeds.

According to Morales, the proposed budget factored in the recent increase in the prices of certified inbred seeds, which would increase the procurement costs of PhilRice.

The inbred rice seed areas covered by the funding are on top of the planted areas benefitting from RCEF.

In February, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. approved the P3.8 per kilogram increase in the selling price of certified inbred rice seeds to P41.8 per kilogram because of higher production costs by seed growers.

The higher NRP budget being sought by the DA will also support the expansion in rice farms in the vicinity of the Jalaur River multipurpose project. The expansion is expected to irrigate an additional 9,500 hectares of rice farms in Iloilo.

A portion of the NRP next year would be used to support the department’s distribution of fertilizer, biofertilizer, soil ameliorants as well as intensification of monitoring and response against pests and diseases, Morales said.

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