Villar urges new DA acting chief to return P4 billion for rice fund

Robie de Guzman   •   August 6, 2019   •   1572

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Cynthia Villar has urged new acting Agriculture Secretary William Dar to prioritize the return of the funds intended for the programs that will help increase farmers’ production under the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tarrification Law.

Villar said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P5 billion last year for the enactment of the law creating the P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

Of the amount, only P1 billion went to RCEF’s program providing farmers access to cheap credit through Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, the senator said.

“Kahit sabihin pa nila na kaya ginastos iyon dahil hindi pa napapasa ang RCEF, dapat naghintay sila at hindi ginastos sa ibang bagay,” Villar said.

“I want DA to account for the remaining P4 billion and also to make sure that P4 billion will be immediately returned to RCEF,” she added.

Villar said the amount is needed to jumpstart the programs enumerated in the law, which was already delayed by the late approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act.

RA 11203, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 14, 2019, replaced the quantitative restriction on rice imports with tariffs. The collected amount will be given to farmers to improve their competitiveness through RCEF.

Under RCEF, P5 billion will be allocated to the Philippine Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) for the procurement of farm equipment to be distributed to 947 rice-producing towns in the Philippines.

P3 billion will be allotted to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to teach farmers how to produce inbred seeds, which will increase their yield by up to 50 percent from 4 metric tons per hectare (MTN/ha) to 6 MTN/ha.

RCEF will also provide P1 billion for the creation of a credit facility with minimal interest rates and collateral requirements.

The remaining P1 billion is allocated to PhilMech, PhilRice, the Agriculture Training Institute and the Technical Skills Development Authority for farmers’ skills training.

With the appointment of William Dar as acting Agriculture chief, Villar expressed hope that the department will now be more supportive of the full implementation of the law and the return of P4 billion for rice fund will be prioritized.

DA to distribute sows in an effort to augment pork supply

Marje Pelayo   •   January 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has allotted P400-million for its program to help swine raisers in areas not affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF).

Through this program, the DA hopes to regulate the increasing price of pork due to scarcity caused by the ASF outbreak.

Recently, the price of pork in local markets rose up to P400 per kilogram.

“Ang objective po ng programang ito ay magbigay ng mga alagang baboy inahin at palakihin dun sa mga areas na free from ASF,” explained Executive Director Reildrin Morales of the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).

“Kasama na rin po doon yung pakain sapagkat sa elevated response natin sa ASF ipagbabawal po natin pagpapakain ng kaning baboy sapagkat yan po ang isa talagang tinitignan nating dahil bakit kumalat ang ASF,” he added.

The DA, however, has not identified yet the beneficiary areas of the program and how many heads of swine will be distributed.

The Department is also launching the ‘Bantay ASF’ program which centers on recovery and repopulation of pigs.

“Isa po sa programa ng National Livestock Program ay doon sa mga free areas palakihin pa or i-expand natin ang pag aalaga ng baboy para suplayan ang pangangailangan natin,” Morales said.

“Doon naman sa mga area na tinamaan, tingnan natin kung how we will be able to recover the area at makapag umpisa ulit na mag alaga ng baboy,” he added.

Also, the DA is looking to further intensify the ban on ‘swill feeding’ which is believed to be the main reason for the quick spread of ASF.

Meanwhile, agriculture advocate Samahan ng Industriyang Agrikultura (SINAG) is appealing to the agency to further intensify the implementation of strict border control and screening of imported meat into the country.

This is to make sure the entry of other animal diseases into the country particularly those that might affect the poultry industry.

“Ang solusyon talaga iyong borders entry natin. Iyon talaga ang dapat na suriin para at least magkaroon tayo ng peace of mind na mahinto ito,” appealed Rosendo So, the president of SINAG.

“Kasi hindi lang ito ang diseases na pwedeng pumasok. Ang other countries ay may Avian Influenza. So kung ito ay pumasok ulit at hindi natin makontrol pati yung chicken industry mamo-problema talaga,” he added.

The DA previously announced the establishment of first border inspection facility in major prots in the country to ensure that all imported agri products are safe and not contaminated by any virus from other countries. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

Spike in prices of agriculture products ‘a cause of alarm’ — DA official

Marje Pelayo   •   January 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —  Prices of agriculture products have gone high in local markets since the beginning of the year.

The price of pork belly, for instance, has shot up to almost P420 per kilogram almost double the suggested retail price of P260/kg to P280/kg.

“Sa price monitoring po natin ay mataas po talaga ang presyo ng ating mga agriculture commodities, mga gulay po. Nakita po natin ang pagtaas ng presyo (Based on our price monitoring, prices of agriculture commodities are indeed high. We observed a spike in prices),” explained Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista.

Ang baboy po at ang manok hindi pa rin po bumababa (The price of pork and chicken is still high). So (this is a) cause of alarm as far as price monitoring is concerned, ” she added.

DA said the reason could have been due to a scarcity in supply.

“Pagdating po sa pork at saka sa poultry meron po tayong mga livestock raisers na hindi po nagpatuloy ng kanilang negosyo. Either tinamaan po ng ASF, tinamaan ng bird flu (When it comes to hog and poultry raising, we have raisers who already quit the business. It’s either they were affected by ASF or bird flu),” Evangelista said.

“Bottom line is naging matumal ang kanilang negosyo (Bottom line is their business became slow),” Evangelista said.

As for vegetables, prices vary though there are some which are indeed high depending on the period of harvest.

Thus, the DA is mobilizing KADIWA Stores where consumers may buy agriculture commodities at a much lower price than the regular market. 

The challenge, however, is that retailers couldn’t just change and leave their former suppliers despite the increase in prices.

The Department is finding ways to help them find a new capital for their products.

“Obviously ang ating mga tindera sa palengke minsan may utang sa ‘5-6’, may utang sa kanilang supplier. So because of that wala silang choice kundi bumili ng mga mahal na gulay (Obviously, our retailers owe money from loan sharks and also from their suppliers. This leaves them with no choice but to accept the supply at a high price),” Asec. Evangelista said.

Meanwhile, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) warned that if the current problem with African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country’s hog industry is not solved, expect the price of meat to further surge.

“Kung ganun mangyayari, by mid of this year ang stocks natin galing Visayas na lang. Medyo magkakaroon ng problema. Malaki. (If that happens, by mid of this year, our stocks will only be coming from the Visayas. might face problems by mid of the year as stocks from Visayas. We might be a promblem. A big one),” noted SINAG President Rosendo So.

“Ngayon pa lang iyong galing Mindanao ang taas na. Nakikita natin na baka lalong sumipa pa yung presyo (As early as now, the price of supply from Mindanao is already high. We see that the price might even go much higher),” he added.

Based on data from the Bureau of Animal Industry, a total of 36 provinces in Luzon and Mindanao have reports of ASF infection.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, on the other hand, assured that the DA is exerting all efforts to further control the situation.

“Dadagdagan pa namin ang aming pagod at pagsusumikap para mas mapaigting pa yung mga quarantine protocols (We will work much harder to further intensify our protocols),” Dar said.

“Ang mga LGUs ang talagang gagalaw at magmomonitor agad-agad (LGUs shall work and monitor right away),” he concluded. —MNP (With reports from Rey Pelayo)

DA targets 20.47 million MT of palay for 2021

Marje Pelayo   •   January 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary William Dar has attributed the country’s bountiful harvest last year to the various programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) despite the calamities and pandemic that affected the Philippines.

Based on the DA’s record, the local production of rice has reached 19.44 million metric tons, which is higher than the 19.27 million metric tons recorded in 2017.

The DA said that one of the programs that helped farmers produce more is the Rice Competitiveness and Enhancement Fund under the Rice Tariffication Law.

The DA’s projection for the local production of rice for the year 2021 is 20.47 million metric tons while the Department’s projection for rice importation this year is 1.69 million metric tons.

Dar said the harvest last year represented more than 90% of the total requirement of the country.

Meanwhile, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) emphasized the need to improve local rice production so as not to depend on importation.

This was after reports that Vietnam is eyeing importation of rice from India.

The Philippines is getting more than 90% of its import requirement from Vietnam.

“Ang mga dumadaan na bagyo dito dumadaan din ng bagyo sa area na iyon (Vietnam). So we expect na kung bumagsak din ang production nila, they have to buy from other places,” SINAG President Rosendo So.

Secretary Dar clarified, however, that the grains that Vietnam bought from India are used for feed manufacturing and breweries. 

“Vietnam buys 100% broken rice for their feed manufacturing and breweries because it is cheaper. They export their rice fetching a higher price and they have 7.1 m metric tons for export accordingly,” Dar said. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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