Rice trading center seen to solve rice smuggling in ZamBaSulTa

admin   •   August 29, 2018   •   4393

 

 

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) are currently studying the establishment of a rice trading center in ZamBaSulTa — Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said the measure can curb rice smuggling in the area.

Based on the estimation of the agriculture department, about 2,000 metric tons or 4 million sacks of rice from Vietnam and Thailand are being shipped by smugglers every year.

Piñol said that smuggling is causing the government to lose P2 billion worth of revenues that end up in the pockets of corrupt officials.

Smuggled rice has also made its way to Central Visayas which threatens local farmers in Mindanao who are losing farmhands.

The secretary added that the government’s intensified anti-smuggling campaign caused the dwindling of rice supply in ZamBaSulaTa which resulted in the price hike.

“They[ NFA Council] agreed that smugglers there should be paying taxes to the government and become legal suppliers of rice for the region,” Piñol said.

ZamBaSulaTa is only able to harvest 10 percent of their annual rice requirement of 201,000 metric tons.

The NFA is also currently processing the permit for private importation of 132,000 metric tons of rice through minimum access volume. These will be allocated to affected areas only.

Loans given to farmers through production loan easy access are also expected to boost rice production. — Rey Pelayo

Agriculture Dept. wants bigger budget for 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture is proposing a P284.4 billion budget for 2021, more than thrice its current budget of P79.9 billion, to fund its programs.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar made the proposal during a teleconference with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture and Food on Wednesday.

Dar said the proposed budget would be used to bankroll its existing and new projects – P61.8 billion and P222 billion, respectively – for the year 2021.

“The agri-fishery sector, for the longest time, has been a ‘sleeping giant’ of the national economy, whose vast potentials remain largely untapped to achieve higher and sustainable growth,” Dar said.

“While the agriculture sector contributes about 10 percent (%) to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), it gets a measly share of total national appropriations, at three to five percent in the last 10 years,” he added.

The Agriculture chief said the sector will continue to perform poorly if it is not given the proper financial support.

“If we were to ensure that agriculture contributes its full potentials in the country’s economic recovery in the ‘new normal,’ we need to augment the DA budget,” Dar said.

If approved, the DA said the budget will be used to further increase the production of major commodities for next year. For the rice sector, the department proposes a budget allocation of P56 billion; P22.5 billion for fisheries; P13.75 billion for high-value crops; P11.25 billion for livestock; and P6.6 billion for corn.

The department also plans to spend P130 billion to bankroll locally-funded projects, construction of farm-to-market roads, implementation of national soil health, and young farmers’ programs; P7.15 billion as counterpart for foreign-assisted projects such as the Philippine Rural Development Project; P3 billion on market development services; and P960.4 million on organic agriculture.

“In all, the budget is intended to sustain, reboot, and grow the Philippine agriculture and fisheries sector, amid the challenges brought by the pandemic and into the ‘new normal’,” Dar said.

Quezon Province First District Representative Wilfrido Mark Enverga, who headed the committee, said at the hearing that Dar’s request is just a ‘wish list’ at the moment given the magnitude of the budget proposal.

Senate to probe DA’s procurement of alleged overpriced fertilizer

Marje Pelayo   •   June 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has released a P5-B budget for the procurement of fertilizer to be distributed to local farmers under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

“Minabuti po natin na mayroong fertilizer this time around kasi may pandemya tayo [We believe it’s best to have fertilizers at this time of pandemic],” noted DA Secretary William Dar.

“Gusto nating pataasin ang food sufficiency level sa bansa [We want to improve the country’s food sufficiency level] from now 86% to 93% to 94%,” he added.

But an agricultural group ‘Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura’ (SINAG) claimed that DA’s bidding price of P1,000 per bag is higher by P150 as compared to about P800 per bag that farmers regularly buy in local markets. 

“Kung ang floor price mo ilalagay mo sa mataas, anong tendency ng mga dealer? Magbi-bid ng mataas kasi yun ang floor price mataas [If you set a high floor price, dealers will bid higher as well],” argued SINAG President Rosendo So.

But the Agriculture Department argued that the budget of P1,000 per bag of fertilizers is actually lower than the surveyed price of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (P1,043 to P1,062/bag between March to May 2020) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (P1,140/bag in December 2019).

DA acknowledged that the price of fertilizer indeed dropped but it was already the bidding period and it also included other expenses like transportation. 

“We are not bound na baguhin kasi the DA BAC is merely relying on what is included in the terms of reference given by the end-users,” explained DA Undersecretary Waldo Carpio.

But SINAG argued that the actual price that farmers have been buying is better than those in surveys.

“Itong mga nakukuha nating presyo is resibo na ng mga farmers. Ano ang mas titingnan ng tao? Iyong survey o iyong actual na presyo [What we have are actual receipts from farmers. What do you think the public will believe? The surveys or the actual price]?” argued So.

The matter has reached the office of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chair Senator Cynthia Villar who vowed to launch a probe on this once the Senate session resumes in July. 

“Kasi ito kung ang bibilhin nila ay P5 billion peso-worth na ipamimigay sa farmers, that would be P5-million. So kung may overprice na P140 per bag, that’s P700M. Malaki din diba? [If they bought P5-billion-peso-worth of (fertilizers) to be distributed to farmers, that would be P5-million. If there’s an overpricing of P140 pesos per bag, that’s P700-M. That’s a huge amount],” noted Villar.

“Kaya titingnan natin kung tama iyong retail at ano ba ang wholesale (price) [We will check if the retail price is correct and what the wholesale price is] then we investigate],” concluded Villar. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DA to use satellite imaging on farms to improve crop insurance

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 9, 2020

The Department of Agriculture (DA) seeks to launch a program that would use satellite technology to improve crop insurance in the country.

Based on a Memorandum of Agreement signed on Monday (June 8), the program would provide satellite images for several crop farms in Nueva Ecija, Iloilo, and North Cotabato.

The project, with the initial funding support of P5 million, targets to provide satellite imaging for the 100,000 hectares planted with rice and 40,000 hectares planted with various crops within six months.

According to DA Secretary Willam Dar, the program aims to provide farmers with direct and targeted assistance to improve their productivity.

“The traditional source of information which relies heavily on fieldwork will be insufficient in the country. As we modernize our agriculture sector, we must continuously explore for relevant technology to increase sufficiency and productivity,” Dar said.

The program will also improve the DA’s disaster response, Dar added.

The MOA signing was witnessed by the Agriculture Secretary and Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) President Atty. Jovy Bernabe. –AAC

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