DA: P30.8 billion to help farmers cope with El Niño

Delon Porcalla – The Philippine Star

January 4, 2024 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines —  The government has earmarked P30.8 billion in additional funds to the Department of Agriculture (DA) to support palay producers and stabilize the price of rice amid the El Niño phenomenon expected this year.

The amount was allotted to the National Rice Program (NRP) of the DA under the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which is up by more than half a billion pesos from P30.2 billion in 2023, according to Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan.

“We’re confident that not only the DA, but other agencies across all other concerned sectors would be fully prepared for this prolonged dry spell to ensure that our rice farmers get all the support they need to continue improving their productivity and incomes amid this challenge,” Yamsuan said.

The NRP fund, according to him, is “on top of the allocations for other national programs” related to rice production and locally funded projects to benefit palay producers, adding rice producers are also “assured of cash aid” amounting to more than P15 billion.

The P15 billion is sourced from the 2023 tariff collections from rice imports. Under the law, rice import tariff collections in excess of P10 billion will go directly to farmers tilling two hectares of land and below – in the form of cash grants.

“As of November 2023, the Bureau of Customs has already collected P25.55 billion, which means a surplus of at least P15.5 billion that will go to small rice planters this year,” Yamsuan revealed.

Under the NRP, the budget for production support services rose by over P1 billion, from P22.87 billion in 2023 to P24.11 billion this year.

These services include community seed banks, support to Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers, buffer seed stocking, insurance coverage for disaster response and pest control measures.

Yamsuan also pointed out that irrigation network services under the NRP received a significant increase of 40 percent, from P721.25 million in 2023 to P1 billion in 2024, in anticipation of the dry spell arising from the El Niño.

The drought is expected to last until the first half of 2024, according to projections by the Department of Science and Technology.

2025 budget call

Just as the new year has started, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is asking government agencies to start preparing their proposals for a record P6.12-trillion budget for 2025.

This comes after Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman has issued national budget memorandum 149 containing the national budget call for fiscal year 2025.

Next year’s planned budget is 6.1 percent higher than the 2024 appropriation of P5.768 trillion, which was approved in mid-December of last year.

Pangandaman emphasized that the proposed national budget will be anchored on the government’s commitment to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that supports the objectives of the Philippine Development Plan and the Ambisyon Natin 2040.

“There is a need to accelerate the progress or reverse the negative trends to achieve the global goals of establishing a transformative vision towards economic, social and environmental sustainability,” she said.

The 2025 budget aims to continuously address various socioeconomic issues such as high food and fuel prices and pandemic scars, as well as support infrastructure investments.

Next year’s budget also targets to adapt to emerging global trends on digital transformation and harmonize linkages between local and national concerns.

Amid the country’s debt burden and competing demands of state agencies, Pangandaman said budget allocation will be optimized. – Louise Maureen Simeon


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