DA budget ups by 36%
By Russell Jay M. Manglicmot
To achieve a 100-percent rice-sufficiency this year, the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) 2014 budget increased by 36.207% to P39.50 billion as compared to last year’s P29 billion.
Biggest to receive a budget upturn is the research on rice varieties, with a 50% increase from P5 billion to P10 billion.
The budget will go to state colleges that accommodate rice research to come up with varieties that are resilient to climate change and/or that can be grown using less water, preferably to be planted on upland areas.
Next to have the biggest budget increase is the National Rice Program (NRP) to P10 billion from P7 billion, a 42.857% increase on the previous year’s budget allocation.
The allocated budget on NRP aims to yield 21.50 million metric tons of palay that will increase the country’s rice self-sufficiency to 100% from 98% last year.
Also under NRP, more irrigation systems and storage facilities will be turned over to farmer groups for operation and maintenance.
Moreover, High-value Crops Program and Programs for other crops both received a 25% increase. Both gained a P5 million increase to P2.5 billion from P2 billion.
On the other hand, 1000 agriculture extension workers will be hired this year, 600 of which will be assigned in areas badly hit by 2013 typhoons, thus making an increase of 20% to P6 billion from P5 billion on administrative budget.
The least budget increase goes to National Crops Program that only has a 12.5 %, to P4.5 billion from P4 billion.
In contrast, the budget for contingencies is unchanged, same from last year’s P4 billion.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the increase in the budget will help the country achieve more 100-percent rice self-sufficiency.
“With the cooperation of the more than 1 million hardworking rice farmers in the Philippines and the local government units, I believe that we can achieve more than 100-percent rice self-sufficiency this year,” he said.