PIXABAY/ DJI-AGRAS

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said its modernization plan for the industry will run for 10 years and cost P2.5 trillion, warning that the Philippines needs to act effectively to stave off an imminent food crisis.

“There is a growing food crisis, not only in our country, but also in developing countries,” DA Secretary William D. Dar said in a briefing on Tuesday.

The National Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization and Industrialization Plan hopes to enhance food security by improving the resilience of agri-fishery communities and the quality of life of farmers and fisherfolk.

“The DA is looking at every possibility to increase the budget of the department,” Mr. Dar said.

The 10-year funding proposal implies annual funding of P250 billion, which is significantly above recent budget levels. In 2021, the Department was allocated less than P69 billion. The approved budget this year is P85.5 billion.

“The Ukraine war came, and even after two months, it’s not yet resolved. So many are affected by the disruption of the food supply chain, increasing petroleum prices and input prices. Everything is going up,” Mr. Dar added.

Mr. Dar has floated a proposal to increase the DA’s budget to P250 billion for 2023, though the department’s aggressive submissions are typically trimmed down by economic managers.

Mr. Dar said that the department was able to raise P4 billion for its fertilizer subsidy program, but called this level of funding insufficient.

“We are requesting the National Government to please increase this budget for fertilizer subsidy. I previously asked for P8 billion. We need this for wet season planting to help our farmers,” he said.

“The overarching goal of the department is to ensure food security for the country. We try our best to produce as much food as we can,” he added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson