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Rice sector to get biggest chunk of DA’s budget

            The rice sector will remain the priority of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) modernization and industrialization programs next year.

            This, after the Senate voted 22-0 to approve the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021 on successive second and third readings on Thursday.

            Under the proposed general appropriations law, or House Bill No. 7727, the DA will get P85.6 billion, including P60.9 billion allocated to the Office of the Secretary which manages seven commodity banner programs, bureaus, central and regional field offices, as well as locally-funded and foreign-assisted projects.

            Among the DA’s seven banner programs, rice sector has the highest allotted budget of P15.5 billion followed by fisheries sector with P3.12 billion, corn farming P1.5 billion, high-value crops P1.6 billion, livestock P1.17 billion, organic agriculture P665 million, and Halal industry P23.9 million.

            “Majority of the agriculture players are rice producers,” DA field operations director Roy Abaya said on Thursday when asked why DA maintains its focus on the rice sector.

            According to the 2021National Expenditure Program for Rice presentation, DA envisions to “maximize income opportunities in the global market while promoting inclusive growth”.

            Agriculture Secretary William Dar thanked the legislators for their hard work in reviewing and deliberating on the DA’S 2021 budget proposal.

            “On behalf of the DA family, I sincerely thank our Senators, especially our main sponsor, Senator (Cynthia) Villar, for this favorable action on our proposed 2021 budget that will sustain the implementation of our umbrella Plant, Plant, Plant program and continued modernization and industrialization of Philippine agriculture,” Dar said in a news release.

            Dar said he is hoping for continued guidance and budget support from the lawmakers “to boost the productivity of our farm and fishery resources, increase the incomes of farmers and fisherfolk, achieve global competitiveness, and ensure greater sustainability and resilience from natural disasters, climate change impacts, and global pandemics.”

            Meanwhile, the agriculture and infrastructure damage caused by Typhoon Ulysses has now exceeded the P16-billion mark, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said yesterday.

            In a report signed and released by executive director Ricardo Jalad, the agency said damage to agriculture was placed at P4,721,378,946 in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, the Cordillera Administrative Region, and the National Capital Region.

            Meanwhile, damage to infrastructure was now estimated at P11,899,226,676.28 or significantly higher than the P10 billion reported Thursday. These were reported in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, CAR, and the NCR.

            Houses damaged were placed at 126,786 with 17,200 classified as “totally damaged” and 109,586 “partially damaged”.

            The number of fatalities remained at 73, while those injured have reached 85 and the number of missing is still at 19.*PNA

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