THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) said it expects to be allocated a P72-billion budget for 2022, well below its proposal for P250 billion.

“The National Expenditure Program (NEP)… is now being printed, to be submitted soon to Congress. The indication is that the level of budget projected for the DA is almost P72 billion. It just went up by almost P1 billion if we consider our budget this year,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar told reporters during a virtual briefing Wednesday. 

“There are other special projects on top of the regular budget and we will continue to drum up support from various stakeholders so that during discussions in Congress, it might still be increased in a big way,” he added.

Mr. Dar cited improvements in production of palay, or unmilled rice as an outcome of increased budget support. Palay production during the first half rose 4.9% to 8.8 million metric tons.

“We have seen why we need more budget. Take rice for example. If you bring all the budgetary support, production really increases,” Mr. Dar said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dar confirmed that the process is underway regarding the government’s plan to issue certificates of necessity to import (CNI) to augment the fish supply with the closing of the fishing season. 

He said the National Fisheries and Resources Management Group is being consulted regarding import plans, adding that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has been directed to submit its recommendation on CNI volumes by Aug. 20.

“Let’s wait on what the recommendation of BFAR will be. We also received recommendation from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) but I will not disclose it in the meantime,” Mr. Dar said.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua announced Tuesday that the government is planning to issue CNIs to address the upcoming closed fishing season starting October, billing it as an inflation-containment measure.  

The PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority) reported Monday that the value of Philippine agricultural production contracted 1.5% in the second quarter.

Livestock and fisheries production declined 19.3% and 1.1%, respectively. Crop production rose 3.1% while poultry output increased 2.5%. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave