Agri budget for 2020 not enough, agri in ‘crisis’ too – agri groups

People’s Alliance for True Agrarian Reform (PATRIA) and Samahan at Ugnayan ng mg Kosyumer para sa Ikauunlad ng Bayan (SUKI) held a press conference on Thursday, October 10 in Quezon City, tackling why the ‘bigger’ agriculture budget won’t solve the ‘agriculture crisis.’

Sonny Africa of IBON Foundation (IBON) told that there are four agricultural crisis that can’t be addressed by just giving a budget.

“Una, bumabagsak ang agricultural productivity per capita. Ang ating production activity per capita ay 10.3% less in 1981 over the last 4 decades, bagamat may mga panahon naman na tumataas siya since 1999, pero since 2008 bumaba ang ating agriculture per capita,“ Africa said.

[“First, our agricultural productivity per capita is declining. Our production activity per capita is 10.3% less in 1981 over the last 4 decades, though there are periods wherein it increased since 1999, but since 2008 our agriculture per capita declined.”]

Africa continued, “Pangalawa, yungimport dependence naman natin ay lumalaki. Malinaw naman yan sa usapin ng bigas although taas baba naman siya, yung nangyaring rice crisis last year up to this year, lumalaki yung import dependence sa bigas.”

[“Second, our import dependence is growing. The issue on rice is clear (of this), although it spikes, the rice crisis last year up to this year (pushes) growing import dependence on rice.”]

“Third ay yung agricultural deficit natin ay lumalaki [mula] 1994. Yung pagpasok sa WTO, yung agricultural deficit natin ay 287 million dollars, na lumaki ito ng talong beses over 8 billion dollars noong 2018. Sa unang quarter ng 2019, ay nasa 2.1 billion dollar na ang agri trade deficit. Lumaki ng 30 times ang ating agri trade deficit from 1994.”

[“Third, our agricultural deficit is increasing since 1994. Since WTO (World Trade Organization) entered, our agricultural deficit is 287 million dollars, it tripled over 8 bullion dollars last 2018. In the first quarter of 2019, there is 2.1 billion dollars agricultural trade deficit. This is 30 times larger than our agri trade deficit from 1994.”]

And lastly, he said “’Yung pinakamalawak na kahirapan sa kanayunan, even by very low official estimate, mas mataas yung poverty incident sa mga farmers and fisherfolks.”

[“The extreme poverty in the countryside even by very low official estimate, there is still high poverty incident among farmers and fisherfolks.”]

IBON also added that under Duterte administration, agriculture comprises at 8% of gross domestic product (GDP) and the employment in the sector comprises 24% of total (10 million) employment.

Former Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary Rafael Mariano stated that the agriculture sector is not a priority of the Duterte administration.

“Nag-propose ang DA ng 333 billion pesos. Magkano yung binagay ng DBM? 71 Billion. That’s 21% of what the DA asked for. Sa 2020 budget, magkano ang para sa department deficit? Mga 400 billion mahigit,” shared Mariano.

[“The DA proposed a 333-billion pesos (budget). How much was given by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)? 71 billion. That’s 21% (less) of what the DA asked for. In the 2020 budget, how much is allotted for the department deficit? 400 billion pesos (deficit) or more.]

Mariano said the Duterte administration prioritized war over social services.

“Syempre, malaki rin ang budget ng DND, DILG, may confidential and intelligence fund, kaya ibig sabihin hindi talaga prayoridad ng gobyernong Duterte ang pagpapaunlad ng agrikultura.” Mariano said.

[Of course, there is the bigger budget allocation for DND, DILG, there’s confidential and intelligence fund, it just goes to show that developing agriculture is not really a priority of the Duterte administration.”]

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