Lawmakers urge Agri dept. to spend more on post-harvest facilities

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2022 02:09 PM

Farmer Dulo Ramirez, 83, salvages whatever he can from his cornfield in Tuguegarao on August 24, 2022 after most of the crops were damaged by the onslaught of tropical storm Florita. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Farmer Dulo Ramirez, 83, salvages whatever he can from his cornfield in Tuguegarao on August 24, 2022 after most of the crops were damaged by the onslaught of tropical storm Florita. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — At least 2 lawmakers on Friday agreed that the Department of Agriculture should spend more on post-harvest facilities.

Agri Partylist Rep. Wilbert Lee expressed disappointment in the lack of funds for post-harvest facilities, saying this could be the reason why some agricultural products are rotting instead of being sold in the markets.

"This is the elephant in the room. Di natin napapansin kung di pa lumalabas sa media o nag-viral sa social media di pa natin ito gagawan ng paraan," Lee said during the deliberations at the House of Representatives on the Department of Agriculture's budget for 2023.

(This is the elephant in the room. I bet we would not have noticed this if the issue wouldn't be reported by the media or wouldn't go viral on social media.)

Lee then lamented the oversupply of some agricultural products like garlic, ginger, and tomatoes which ended up being destroyed. 

"And the root cause of all of these is the need to recalibrate and restrategize our value chain," he said.

Isabela Rep. Antonio Albano, the agency's budget sponsor, pressed the need to give more funds in future budgets for the DA.

"Factors involving money to be spent in the Department of Agriculture is meager but we have to remember that this is already an almost 40% increase from the last year's total," Albano said.

Earlier in the deliberation, Lee said that the budget for post-harvest facilities pales in comparison to pre-harvest support. Albano then called on his colleagues to allocate an additional budget for this.

Lee noted that all support has been in production but not in making sure the produce reaches the consumers.

"Lumalabas nga na nagdadagdag tayo ng pondo sa pre-harvest pero kapos tayo sa post-harvest facilities. Tinutulungan natin ang mga magsasakang magtanim pero pinababayaan naman natin sila na kung paano maibebenta ang kanilang ani," he said.

(What we're seeing is that we're putting funds for pre-harvest but post-harvest facilities are lacking. We're helping our farmers in terms of production but they lack support when it comes to the distribution of their produce.)

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