FOOD SECURITY advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan said Monday that 10% or about P23 billion of the additional funds allocated for local government units (LGUs) under the Supreme Court’s (SC) Mandanas ruling should be directed to agriculture every year.

The SC ruling is expected to raise an additional P234.6 billion for LGUs starting next year. The ruling, based on a case filed by former Batangas governor and Representative Hermilando I. Mandanas, expanded the scope of the National Government’s revenue eligible for distribution to LGUs under the internal revenue allotment scheme.

“We suggest that 10% of the funds or P23.4 billion be allocated for (production and post-harvest investments) annually, especially in the countryside where most production is happening. The allocation can be adjusted once LGUs reach the desired…targets,” Tugon Kabuhayan said in a statement Monday.

Majority of the proposed 10% allocation should go to investment related to post-harvest processing, Tugon Kabuhayan convenor Asis G. Perez told reporters in a virtual briefing Monday. Mr. Perez is a former director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

“I will say about 60% (of the proposed P23-billion allocation) should be dedicated to improving post-harvest, to funding post-harvest infrastructure, while only 40% of the amount should be given to production… It is in the post-harvest process where we’re losing a lot of resources,” he said.

Citing a 2016 report from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, he said that post-harvest losses from rice amounted to 16%. Meanwhile, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated fish catch losses in the Philippines of up to 30% due to improper handling as of 2014.

Tugon Kabuhayan co-convenor Norberto O. Chingcuanco said that the Philippines is still lacking in post-harvest capability.

“Our production is not bad; we produce well. But it’s the post-harvest that we’re lacking in industrial skills (such as) smoking vegetables to canning, bottling, packaging and logistics,” he said during the briefing. — Angelica Y. Yang