Senate to probe use of farmer funds

Maris Federez   •   July 30, 2019   •   1347

Senate committee on agriculture and food chairperson Cynthia Villar has filed a resolution that seeks to probe the implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law.

In particular, Senator Villar wants to find out the use of the rice competitiveness enhancement fund that was set up to help the farmers.

Villar said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released Php5-billion to the Department of Agriculture (DA) in December 2018 as assistance to farmers.

It was discovered, however, that only Php1-B went to the farmers’ sector.

The lawmaker said both departments had an opposing stand on the issue.

She added, “Hindi raw para sa rice competitiveness enhancement fund yun. Pero sabi ng DBM iyon daw ay para sa rice competitiveness fund ([The DA said] it was not for rice competitive enhancement fund. But DBM said it was for rice competitiveness fund). So we will know who is telling the truth.”

The senator said they want to find out where the DA used the said fund that is supposed to be used in the procurement of farm equipment to be given to rice farmer groups and cooperatives.

“Kasi this is very important, this is the competitiveness of our farmers kasi we have liberalized the importation of rice so we have to make our farmers as competitive as soon as possible,” Villar added.

Under the Rice Tarrification Law, the rice competitiveness enhancement fund must have a yearly allocation of Php10-Billion. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

New ASF outbreaks reported in 6 Luzon provinces, DA says

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – New outbreaks of the African Swine Fever (ASF) have been monitored in six provinces in Luzon, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said Thursday.

During a Laging Handa briefing, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the incidents of ASF outbreaks were reported in the provinces of Albay, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon and Quirino.

The new outbreaks bring the total number of affected regions to nine, he added.

Dar assured that the culling operations for ASF-affected hogs have been implemented to ensure that no contaminated pork products will be sold in local markets.

“Mayroon po tayong ugnayan sa mga LGU sila na yung nakabantay doo sa mga areas na may declared ASF cases,may quarantine na yan hindi na makakalabas at kung ano yung kinakailangan na idepopulate,” he said.

“Lahat ng pupunta sa merkado, dapat dadaan sa slaughter houses at doon sa slaughter houses ay naka-bantay ang ating kawani ng National Meat Inspection Service at sila ang magbibigay ng certification na ito ay walang sakit at safe kainin ang karne,” he added.

The Agriculture chief also said that the government is providing hog raisers P5,000 indemnification per pig surrendered for culling.

Experts have said that the ASF virus is not harmful to humans. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

SAP will no longer be funded under proposed 2021 national budget —DBM

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 9, 2020

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said there will be no budget to be allotted for the government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP) under the proposed 2021 National Budget.

DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado said they expect the economy to recover next year with additional job opportunities available.

He also clarified that there will still be an allotted budget for the regular programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“We’re looking at the improvement in the economy and the opportunity for people to be able to work already. And we still have the regular programs, the 4Ps your honor, that will be continued,” he said on Wednesday (September 9) during a Senate hearing.

Under the proposed P4.5 trillion budget, P171 billion will be allotted to the DSWD. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

DA, NIA to conduct cloudseeding ops in Central Luzon to stem dipping Pantabangan Dam water

Robie de Guzman   •   September 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) are planning to conduct cloudseeding operations in Central Luzon to address the declining water level in Pantabangan Dam.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he has given a go-signal for the department’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) to commence the operation to induce rains over parts of Central Luzon where the bulk of the rice areas are in critical reproductive stage.

“With this initiative, we can ensure a respectable rice harvest in Central Luzon, particularly in Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Tarlac,” Dar said.

Sonia Salguero, DA-BSWM director said a total of P6 million has been allocated for the operations and that the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has given clearance to make use of Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija as its base.

Dar said the project is in cooperation with NIA and the irrigators’ associations, which is aimed to ensuring adequate water for rice farms in Central Luzon and to bring up Pantabangan dam’s “very low reservoir water level.”

Central Luzon is the country’s rice granary and main source of the staple for Metro Manila and other rice-deficit areas in Luzon.

“Central Luzon is a critical component in our objective to achieve food security, especially for residents in the National Capital Region,” the DA chief said.

Pantabangan Dam is one of the largest dams in Asia and supplies the irrigation requirements for agricultural lands in Central Luzon. Its power station generates 112 megawatts of hydroelectric power.

As of September 5, 2020, Pantabangan Dam’s RWL is at 182.17 meters or 30.97 meters below its normal high water level of 216 meters.

“This means the stored water at Pantabangan Dam is not enough to supply the irrigation requirements of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (UPRIIS) operated by NIA,” said Salguero.

More than 141,430 hectares are programmed to be served by UPRIIS this rainy season.

NIA expects that the possible arrival of La Niña in the coming months may help increase the water level of Pantabangan Dam.

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