Acting Agri chief: Where is farmers' P4-billion fund from rice imports?


Posted at Aug 06 2019 12:11 PM

William Dar eyes doubling farmer, fishers' income in 5 years

MANILA -- New Acting Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Tuesday said he will order an audit into the whereabouts of P4 billion in funds that should have gone to programs for increasing the production of local farmers.

The amount is part of the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) that farmers should get yearly from tariff collections on imported rice.

The budget agency earlier this year released P5 billion from the RCEF to the Department of Agriculture, of which P1 billion went to loans for farmers and P4 billion remains unaccounted for, Sen. Cynthia Villar earlier said.

"Gusto kong kumuha ng feedback sa ating mga liderato later on... Iyung P4 billion, nasaan po? Sabihin na natin na and'yan, they just have to properly account," Dar told reporters.

(I want to get feedback from our leadership later on. Where is the P4 billion? Let's say that it's just there, they just have to properly account for it.)

In the next 100 days, Dar said he wants to accelerate the implementation of RCEF and educate some 3 million farmers about the program.

Dar said he also aims to double the income of farmers and fishermen in the next 5 years through industrialization, promotion of exports, infrastructure development, and higher budget and investments, among others.
"Gustong mag-iwan ng legacy ang ating Pangulo: na by the end of his term ay umangat ang kabuhayan at aangat ang quality of life ng ating magsasaka at mangingisda," he said.

(Our President wants to leave a legacy: that by the end of his term, the livelihood and quality of life of our farmers and fishermen would have improved.)

Farmers and fishermen consistently registered the highest poverty incidence among 9 sectors in 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015, according to a report by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

An agriculture worker earns around P192 daily, the agency said in another report.

Dar, a horticulturist, briefly served as agriculture chief during former President Joseph Estrada's term.

His predecessor, former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, was appointed chairman of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).