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Feed-dependent industries urge more budget support for yellow corn production

REUTERS

INDUSTRIES dependent on animal feed called on the government to raise its budget allocation for raising corn output, saying corn scarcity will have a follow-on effect on meat, fish, and poultry prices.

“There should be more funding for yellow corn production as it is the main ingredient for the feed of our main protein sources (such as) poultry, livestock, and aquaculture. The same reasoning goes for fruit and vegetables,” United Broiler Raisers Association President Elias Jose M. Inciong said in a Viber message.

“Considering only the budget numbers, one can say the budget is still rice-centric after all these years and despite the funds from the Rice Tariffication Law. Rice is for the carbohydrate needs of our people,” he added.

In the proposed 2023 budget, the Department of Agriculture (DA) will receive P102.15 billion, up 44%, according to a statement issued by Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Ralph G. Recto on Sunday.

“It took a sitting President to concurrently serve as Agriculture Secretary for the DA to finally reap a budget increase,” Mr. Recto said, referring to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s decision to appoint himself head of the DA.

Subsidies to the National Food Authority (NFA), Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), National Irrigation Administration, Philippine Rice Research Institute, Philippine Fisheries Development Authority, National Tobacco Administration, Philippine Coconut Authority, National Dairy Authority will rise 33% to P62 billion, according to the budget bill currently with the House of Representatives.

The NFA received the biggest year-on-year increase of 71% to P12 billion, followed by the SRA, whose funding was raised 41% to P1 billion.

The National Rice Program had its allocation doubled to P30.5 billion. Of this total, P19.5 billion will fund fertilizer support.

Corn is to receive P5.2 billion, livestock P5 billion, and high-value crops P2 billion.

The DA will also be ramping up infrastructure spending, allotting P13.1 billion for farm-to-market roads and P29.5 billion for irrigation.

Mr. Inciong said that the government should consult more broadly with stakeholders in preparing budgets.

“There should be an Agriculture Fisheries Modernization Plan based on consultations with stakeholders. There is no plan based on genuine consultations. Also, there should be a National Information Network. This means a data and information system with clear stakeholder buy-in as to its reliability. We still do not have such a system,” he added.

In a separate statement, Acting Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Head David John Thaddeus P. Alba said that the budget increase will increase farm productivity.

“With the National Government’s focus on food security, the budget increase can be used for research and development programs and support services for small farmers, especially for block farms,” he said.

Mr. Alba also welcomed the increase in budget for fertilizer support.

“We hope that sugar farmers and all other agriculture industries will benefit from this earmarked program,” Mr. Alba said, noting that fertilizer prices have tripled in the last three years.

“We are also hoping that the P2 billion allocation under the Sugar Industry Development Act will be given by next year as this has been cut down to a fourth for this year. For the sugar industry to be sustainable and attain self-sufficiency, we need to double our efforts and any budget increase will help ensure we can meet this if we get the much-needed help for the industry,” he added.

Quezon Province First District Rep. Wilfrido Mark M. Enverga, who is also chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, welcomed the budget increase.

“We are happy that the agricultural sector is being given attention. It has long been neglected,” he has said in a statement.

Mr. Enverga said that the newly appointed Agriculture Undersecretary, Domingo F. Panganiban, who briefed the committee, will effectively lobby for the agriculture sector’s budgetary needs.

“I think it’s also the key people within the agency that will be answering most of the questions so it’s good that we hear the details from them,” he said. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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