P60-B DA budget pushed

By Marianne V. Go, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 12 2011 07:53 AM | Updated as of Jul 12 2011 06:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture needs a budget of P50 billion to P60 billion to enable it to increase agricultural and fisheries production, National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) president Emil Q. Javier said yesterday.

In a press briefing at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) office in Quezon City, Javier said increasing the productivity of existing agricultural lands is the only way to meet increasing demand.

Converting more lands for agriculture would already have a negative impact on the environment, he said.

But the DA is constrained by a limited budget, Javier said as he pointed out the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), which is key to the production of palay and other essential foods crops, suffers from the DA’s budget restriction.

This year, the DA’s budget was slashed to just P38 billion.

The NIA’s budget for this year is P12.7 billion when it has to complete the restoration and rehabilitation of irrigation facilities for 55,000 hectares of farmlands.

To date, NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel said only 30% of the 55,000 has. has been irrigated, leaving about 70% to be completed by the end of the year.

For next year, Nangel said, the NIA must provide irrigation for 145,000 has. To accomplish this, the DA is allocating P25 billion for irrigation, provided its proposed budget of P50 billion is approved.

For 2013, the NIA has programmed the irrigation of 92,000 has. which will allow the Government to achieve its rice self-sufficiency target of 21.1 million metric tons.

Agriculture Undersecretary Joel Rudinas and Nangel said the DA remains on-track with its goal.

Target harvested area for this year, Nangel said, is 2,025,948 has. with three croppings that include a wet and dry season and a third quick-turnaround crop.

Based on the NIA’s irrigation program, NIA projects an average production of 86 cavans of palay during the wet season and up to 92 cavans of palay during the dry season.