Agriculture dept. seeks ₱31-B extra funds for unhampered food supply

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 25) — More funds are needed to sustain food supply amid the Luzon-wide quarantine, the Department of Agriculture said Wednesday.

In a statement, the agency said it requested an additional ₱31 billion to “ensure a food-secure Philippines much more in time of the health emergency period.”

Of the proposed amount, the bulk or P8.5 billion would fund fertilizer purchases for farmers growing inbred rice in nearly 950 municipalities, “support advance planting during wet and dry seasons” in other areas in the form of seed distribution and loans, and “expand rice-growing areas with good irrigation.”

Another portion worth around ₱7 billion would fund palay procurement from farmers, the department said.

Another ₱3 billion would be given to rice farmers losing out from low palay prices, and another ₱3 billion to raise the insurance coverage of rice and fish farmers as well as livestock raisers.

Meanwhile, ₱1 billion will be used to ‘upscale’ the “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” program which results in cheaper agricultural produce.

The department also said it wants to set aside ₱1 billion for higher corn production under its corn resiliency project and another ₱1 billion for more production of meat, chicken and eggs.

The Corn for Food project, which seeks to intensify corn production in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro would receive ₱300 million, while the coconut-based diversification project, which involves growing of vegetables and fruits, and raising small livestock and poultry while growing coconut trees would be apportioned ₱1 billion, the department added.

The department also proposes ₱1 billion for the Urban Aquaphonics and the Enhanced Aquaculture and Sustainable Capture Fisheries in Inland Waters projects for the fisheries sector.

The urban agriculture project will also get ₱500 million, while ₱1 billion will go to its Gulayan sa Paaralan, Gulayan sa Barangay, and Gulayan program.

The DA also said ₱500 million would be used to buy protective gear for its personnel on the COVID-19 frontline. The requested money also includes ₱200 million for its information dissemination campaign.

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire island of Luzon under enhanced community quarantine, restricting people’s movement to contain the spread of COVID-19.

But the department has announced the free movement of food items and farm inputs. Agriculture Secretary William Dar has said this is "the best way to sustain stable prices of agriculture and fishery commodities and food products."