THE new Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary said his focus will be to achieve food security by achieving a rise in output outpacing population growth, while also boosting the earnings of farmers and fisherfolk.
“Kung ang (If the) population growth rate is up to 1.8%, dapat naman we (should) aim higher than that pero dapat naman meron kang konting (but there should be) allowance na sapat ang pagkain (that is enough for food). Again food security is the goal,” Acting Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar told reporters Tuesday.
Agriculture outut rose 0.67% in the first quarter of 2019.
“With all the constraints that are there in Philippine agriculture, lack of water, climate change and the like, pest and diseases, so it will be better to have a more practical approach and goal which is anchored on ensuring food security and with the elevation of the farmers and fisherfolk to be more prosperous,” he added.
The ongoing programs of the Department of Agriculture will be continued but reconfigured to bring them in line with the primary goals, while also building new programs from the ground up that meet these objectives.
Mr. Dar said that importing commodities will be resorted to in order to fill in domestic production shortfalls, following due consultation with stakeholders.
“If we need to import I have some ideas, but I will consult with them. Dapat may (There should be) consensus… Food security… is the overarching goal. Ensuring food security means let’s produce enough under the conditions, but any gaps you need to bring as imports,” he said.
He said that he is also targeting to reach out to 3 million farmers in the next 100 days, in collaboration with agencies that will implement the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
“Planting is almost over. Halos (It’s almost) harvest time. Dapat, of course overall, maganda sana kung mas naumpisahan pa ng maaga ’yung intervention para sila na ang nakikinabang (It would be better if this was started earlier so that they are able to benefit from te interventions)…. Let’s do what is possible now and let’s make it much, much better (in the) next planting season,” he said in a chance interview after his news conference.
He said he will propose a 2020 budget of about P90 billion, and possibly top P100 billion in 2021 to fund more programs. The DA’s current budge is P49.8 billion. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang