DA urged to prioritize training, promote agri-preneurship
(The Philippine Star) - October 18, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Bong Go has expressed support for the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) as he commend the agency for its swift response to the needs of Filipino farmers and fisherfolk during the pandemic.

“I am here to manifest my full support to the budget of the (DA), headed by Secretary William Dar, its banner programs and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources,” he said during a Senate committee on finance public hearing last Friday.

He explained that he supports the DA budget because its thrust, priorities and strategies support the vision of “a food secure and resilient Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolk.”

“I trust the department to stay true to its vision and continue their efforts in providing reprieve to our less fortunate farmers and fisherfolk and ensure production, availability, accessibility and affordability, price stability, sustainability and food safety,” he added.

Go then lauded the swift response of DA to address the dismal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The department provided financial subsidy to more than 530,000 rice farmers. They have released and continue to release zero-interest loans to marginalized small farmers and fisherfolk and agri-based micro and small enterprises,” he said.

He added that the agency has “extended support services, education, training and agricultural equipment and facilities to our poverty-stricken farmers and fisherfolk.”

Earlier, the senator renewed his call for the DA to intensify its support for the agricultural sector in providing livelihood, food security and in boosting economic activities in the countryside.

He also called for the DA to complement the BP2 program by revitalizing the country’s agricultural sector as many Filipinos expressed willingness to participate in the program and be reintegrated in the rural communities. He emphasized that the government must provide agricultural training and strengthen programs promoting agri-preneurship.

“The Bayanihan 2 directed the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines to prioritize agri-fishery businesses, agriculture cooperatives, farmers, fisherfolk and other agricultural workers in the provision of low interest and flexible loans. In addition, appropriations and standby fund of P24 billion was allocated to assist our agricultural sector,” Go said as he challenged the department to safeguard and spend this appropriation judiciously.

During the deliberations, Go challenged Dar to go after agricultural smugglers and help eradicate systemic corruption in government.

While Dar obliged, he said a whole-of-government approach is required to resolve agricultural smuggling.

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