DA expects 16% increase in rice production
During the Senate hearing on the P284.4-billion proposed budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for 2021 that included P24 billion from the Bayanihan 2 funds, Dar told senators agriculture grew by 1.6 percent during the second quarter of 2021 or during the lockdown.
Edd Gumban, file
DA expects 16% increase in rice production
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - October 13, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A 16 percent increase in rice production is anticipated in the third quarter of the year, a good indication of employment attraction in agriculture despite the coronavirus pandemic, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said yesterday.

During the Senate hearing on the P284.4-billion proposed budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for 2021 that included P24 billion from the Bayanihan 2 funds, Dar told senators agriculture grew by 1.6 percent during the second quarter of 2021 or during the lockdown.

“Here in the third quarter, initial indicators indicate an increase in rice production by 16 percent, meaning the employment attraction was really there for agriculture, IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) is supportive of farming and fishing,” he added.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, however, rebuked some DA officials for the apparent duplication of rice subsidy programs for farmers and failure to provide the Senate with the list of recipients of the rice subsidy programs.

For almost an hour, Villar slammed DA officials for apparent duplication of two rice subsidy programs – the national rice program, which includes the distribution of rice hybrid seeds to farmers, and the use of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund under the rice tariffication law.

“I want to see where the budget was brought. I gave a list of questions with regard to the Bayanihan 2, you have two and a half months to do it and yet you have not answered. I sent you 16 questions. I did not understand your reports,” said Villar, who chaired the budget hearing as head of the Senate committee on agriculture.

Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan, who could barely answer, said they have sent a list of subsidy recepients to the Senate but he could not discuss the content of the list.

Villar demanded to see the list to double-check whether the grant was actually given to the grantee and also to see if the seed supply and the projects are doubled.

Dar promised to submit a more detailed list and reports to Villar.

Villar’s demand was echoed by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who asked for a list of people who were given cash assistance by the DA.

For their failure to mute the microphone and interrupting the hearing of the Senate on the proposed DA budget, Villar also threatened to remove the budget of a DA program.

Villar several times asked those present at the DA hybrid hearing to mute their microphones to avoid interrupting the senators who were asking questions.

“Will you please mute (your mic). Who is that ADING? Is ADING a program of DA?” said Villar.

Dar said ADING stands for Agriculture Dialogue and Information Network Group, designed to promote integrity and good government.

Villar said officials of ADING kept on talking loudly while their microphones were on, thus interrupting the Senate proceedings.

Sen. Joel Villanueva, who was interrupted by ADING officials, said while ADING was supposed to promote integrity, it seemed people there do not have such traits.

“ADING is always talking and it has a P100-million budget. They are always talking. Maybe we should remove their P100-million budget in the Bayanihan 2. My God, they are always talking and it’s loud, we cannot understand each other. They are always talking, it’s always ADING who is talking,” said Villar.

Meanwhile, Sen. Imee Marcos pointed to the lack of drying machines and storage facilities for the losses that rice farmers are suffering amid October’s wet season harvest.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said rice farmers who were selling their wet palay at P15 per kilo weeks earlier where now selling below their average production cost of P12 per kilo.

The lowest farm gate price of P10 per kilo was reported in Bicol and Capiz, and was ranging from P11 to P13 in other rice-producing provinces.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros is pushing for a P48.7-billion increase in the budget of the Department of Health for 2021 as the country continues to bear the brunt of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a health emergency. If we want to win against COVID-19 and finally recover as a country, our national budget next year must be a pandemic budget, no ifs and buts,” said Hontiveros.

Hontiveros’ proposed the P48.7-billion hike to provide the necessary funding to upgrade various aspects of the county’s healthcare system. based on the projected amounts initially proposed by the health department to the Department of Budget and Management.

She said with the huge proposed P4.5-trillion national budget next year, the DOH is not even in the top three agencies with the largest funding.

“We do not seem to be in the top 20 countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. What is this, we will just ignore the sick and dying Filipinos?” Hontiveros said.

She said P22 billion of her proposal puts a spotlight on programs critical to the country’s health response against the COVID-19 pandemic. She questioned the “shocking” budget cuts, such as the slashed operations budget for national and subnational laboratories that only received P289 million, despite the DOH’s request of P1.3 billion.

Local Health Systems Development and Assistance, which promotes health at the community level, she said, only received P353 million of its requested P1.7 billion.

Meanwhile, the programs for prevention and control of communicable diseases were only awarded P5.98 billion from the requested P15 billion, which Hontiveros says is crucial to “prevent further uncontrollable outbreaks from worsening the country’s health situation.”

Apart from health programs to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, Hontiveros added that funding for the prevention and control of other “killer” non-communicable diseases was also deprioritized, having been awarded a “measly” P373 million from the requested P1.33 billion.

Hontiveros said P26 billion of her proposal is meant to increase the funding of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to cover the health costs of the 7.6 million unemployed workers.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with