FARM ORGANIZATIONS asked Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar to consult more extensively to guide the implementation of Republic Act No. 8435, or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA).

In an open letter, 58 leaders of various agricultural organizations, such as the United Broilers Raisers Association, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc., and the Federation of Free Farmers, said the lack of consultation by the Department of Agriculture (DA) does not meet its obligations under the law.

They said that under the law, stakeholders must be consulted in the formulation and the implementation of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Plan.

“This means the participation in making budget requests and full transparency in program implementation. This would entail the designation of clear performance targets and quantifiable and verifiable impact indicators and the conduct of up-to-date monitoring and impact assessment,” they said.

They said they were not consulted on the AFMA, which tackles issues like food security, poverty alleviation, income enhancement, global competitiveness, and sustainability.

The agricultural groups said one of the components of the AFMA that was not implemented was a national information network (NIN) with industry data, modeled on a system in place in the US.

They said, NIN will provide information and marketing services such as data on supply, demand, price and price trends, as well as market forecasts.

“It is the reason for the disconnect between farmgate and retail prices for agricultural commodities. It is also why issues such as unfair trade and smuggling have not been addressed,” they said.

They added that other AFMA provisions not implemented were the establishment of Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zones and Agro-Industry Modernization Credit and Financing Programs.

“The first step is to follow the law and implement AFMA. That is the only way to effectively gain the trust and respect of stakeholders,” they added.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said last week that the agriculture sector has not reflected improvement commensurate to its level of funding.

Mr. Chua added that the performance of the farm sector is hindered by restrictive policies that slow competition and productivity.

The Department of Budget and Management approved a budget of P66.4 billion for the DA in 2021. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave