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DA to propose P270B budget for 2023 —Dar

The Department of Agriculture is set to propose a P270-billion budget for 2023 under the incoming Marcos administration, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said Monday.

Dar stressed that “so much more” could be done in the agriculture sector if an apt budgetary support would be allocated to the agency, which he claimed was "neglected" in the past years.

“What we have prepared as budget for 2023 is at the level of P270 billion. We really have considered everything. That’s the level of budget that we need in agriculture, otherwise talagang…we have been under-budgeted, we have been neglected all these 30 years,” he said in an ANC interview.

The DA was earlier seeking an P8 billion to 10 billion increase in the agency’s P91-billion proposed 2022 budget. The agency originally proposed a budget of P231 billion, but the Department of Budget and Management only recommended P91 billion to Congress.

Despite the lack of increase in the DA’s budget, Dar said the country still posted a record harvest in rice production with 19.96 million metric tonnes.

President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. earlier said he would recommend a price cap on rice and mandate government agencies to serve as middlemen in the procurement of harvests under his administration.

This will lower rice prices to P20 to P30 from the existing costs of 38 to P50 per kilogram for the local commercial prices in Metro Manila and P37 to P52 for imported commercial rice.

Furthermore, Dar emphasized that the incoming Marcos administration will inherit an agriculture sector that is “gasping for breath,” also considering the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

He thus said a sizable budget for next year would help resolve this and “unlock the potential" of the Philippine agriculture industry.

“That has been a result of this long neglect. We need now to significantly give budgetary support so that all the very requirements for farming and fishing can be properly supported by the government. This time it’s really a minimum budget for survival,” he added. 

Dar earlier warned of a looming food crisis brought by increases in the prices of farm inputs during the second semester of 2022, aggravated by the effects of the pandemic on the economy, rising fuel prices, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

And with the current government’s reliance on importation of some agricultural products, the United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA) on Sunday expressed concerns over the possible reappointment of Dar as DA secretary as they were hoping that the next agriculture chief would show real care for local farmers.—AOL, GMA News