DA RTD Rodel P. Tornilla presented the Rice Tarrification law during the consultation with Civil Society Organizations.
NAGA CITY – The Department of Agriculture in Bicol convened over 100 representatives of various stakeholders for the Civil Society Organizations Consultation on DA FY 2020 Plan and Budget Proposal in one of the hotels here on March 1, 2019.
Aloha Gigi I. Bañaria, chief of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PMED) presented the FY 2020 budget totaling to over P8.1 billion. The biggest chunk of the budget will be allocated to the Locally Funded Projects such as Farm-to-Market Roads (P3.9 billion), Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) with P242.6 million, and the newest program of DA dubbed as 4Ks - P15 million. Meanwhile, the DA banner programs also got a huge share, to wit: Rice Program - P1.4 billion; HVCDP - P197.1 million; Livestock - P163.8 million; Corn - P126.8 million; and Organic Agriculture –P42 million. Meanwhile, HALAL program has P1 million.
Bañaria added that the proposed activities were framed according to the principle of Cash-Based Appropriations (ACBA). The ACBA is an approach that limits incurring and disbursing payments for goods delivered and services rendered, inspected and accepted within the fiscal year. The FY 2020 plans only contains projected budget requirements, activities and projects that can be implemented and paid within the fiscal year.
As embodied in the Agri and Fishery Modernization Plan 2018 to 2023, the DA’s strategic directions include: 1) global competitiveness of key players in agri & fishery value chain; 2) agribusiness and agri-entrepreneurship oriented farming systems; 3) Developing and sustaining robust agri & fishery sector and promoting inclusive growth; 4) Strengthening agri & fishery sector capacity to mitigate the effects and adapt to climate change; promoting good governance and performance-based management
The priorities for 2020 are five high impact projects namely: 1) FMR; 2) Solar Powered Irrigation System; 3) Postharvest facilities for fisheries; 4) Logistics and transport facilities; 5) Easy access credit for food and agriculture production.
In anticipation to the passage of the new laws intended for the rice and coconut sub-sectors, the plan also included measures to protect local rice producers from unfair trade practices and necessary support services to raise productivity of the rice sector as laid out in the Revised Agri Tariffication Act. Also considered were initiatives to consolidate the benefits for coconut farmers and to expedite its delivery as stipulated in the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act.
Rodel P. Tornilla, OIC Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension discussed the draft IRR of RA 11203: An Act Liberalizing the Importation and Trading of Rice, Lifting for the Purpose of the Quantitative Import Restriction on Rice. Fresh from Secretary Manny Piñol’s briefing on Rice Tariffication for the South Luzon cluster at Lipa City, Batangas, RTD Tornilla said that with Pres. Duterte’s signing of act, the Phils. will collect 35% tariff from rice coming from ASEAN member countries and 185% tariff from non-ASEAN member countries raising more funds for the government. On the other hand, rice importation and exportation will be free of tariff, what the rice traders will only need are phytosanitary permits to be issued by the Bureau of Plant Industry. The National Food Authority (NFA) was divested of its regulatory functions except maintaining the buffer stock for 15-30 days to be secured from local production of our farmers. NFA is given 60 days transition period to finalize their organization plan.
Tornilla added, that the farmers will ultimately benefit from the rice tariffication law with the allocation of P10 billion annual Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund (RCEF) whose accountability in disbursement is solely with the Secretary of Agriculture. P5 billion will go to Philmech for production of postharvest machineries and small irrigation projects; P3 billion will be given to Philrice for development and promotion of inbred rice seeds; P1 billion will be given to DBP and Landbank for easy access loans; and P1 billion for extension activities, 70% of which will be given to TESDA.
RTD Tornilla urged those farmers organizations that have received farm machineries from DA without counterpart to support the NFA by selling a portion of their rice produce to the agency.
Some farmer leaders aired their apprehensions over the rice tariffication, as it may lead to selling of their farm lands and abandoning farming; another concern raised was the possible delay in the distribution or implementation of the RCEF due to delay in the updating of RSBA. Some farmers inquired on the possibility of fuel subsidy with the threat of El Nino this year. RAFC Chair Alfredo Rillo pointed out the need for fast actions/solutions to the request of the different stakeholders and for the technologies and farm machines to be suited to the needs of the farmers and the speedy transfer of new rice technologies from research areas to the farmers. Some farmer leaders extend their gratitude for fast action of DA to their requests.
The consultation was attended by chairpersons of farmers organizations, irrigators associations; representatives from the DA bureaus and attached agencies, academe, private sector. Also present were officials of the Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC), PAFC Chairpersons, and Provincial Agriculturists. The banner program coordinators of the DA also presented their plans and budget for 2020.
The consultation with the CSO is an annual undertaking to get their feedbacks on the plans and budget of DA in support to DBM’s commitment to a transparent, accountable and participatory governance. (Lovella P. Guarin/photos by Jun Collantes)