MANILA – Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed his support for the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) as he commended the agency for its swift response to the needs of Filipino farmers and fisherfolk during the pandemic.
“I am here to manifest my full support to the budget of the DA, headed by Secretary William Dar, its banner programs and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources,” Go said during his manifestation at a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Finance on Friday.
Go said he supports the agriculture budget because its thrust, priorities, and strategies support the vision of “a food secure and resilient Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolk”.
“I trust the department to stay true to its vision and continue their efforts in providing reprieve to our less fortunate farmers and fisherfolk and ensure production, availability, accessibility and affordability, price stability, sustainability, and food safety,” he added.
Go, then, lauded the swift response of the DA to address the adverse effects of the pandemic.
“The Department provided a financial subsidy to more than 530,000 rice farmers. They have released and continue to release zero-interest loans to marginalized small farmers and fisherfolk, and agri-based micro and small enterprises,” Go said.
“In addition, they have extended support services, education, training, and agricultural equipment and facilities to our poverty-stricken farmers and fisherfolk. The help they provided, in turn, safeguarded our nation’s food security which is vital for each and everyone’s sustenance,” he added.
Earlier, Go renewed his call for the DA to intensify its support for the agricultural sector in providing livelihood, food security, and in boosting economic activities in the countryside.
“Lalo na sa panahon ngayon na apektado ng krisis ang ating ekonomiya, ‘back to basics’ po tayo. Nakita natin ngayon kung gaano kahalaga ang agrikultura sa ating bansa at sa ating kabuhayan,” Go said.
(Especially now that crisis affects our economy, we need to go back to basics. We now see the importance of agriculture in our country and our livelihood.)
“Mabilis pong maibabalik ang sigla ng ating ekonomiya kung palalakasin natin ang sektor ng agrikultura sa ating mga probinsya,” he added.
(We can swiftly revive our economy if we boost the agriculture sector in the provinces.)
He also called for the DA to complement the BP2 program in revitalizing the country’s agricultural sector as many Filipinos expressed willingness to participate in the program and be reintegrated into the rural communities.
He said the government must provide agricultural training and strengthen programs promoting agri-preneurship as many have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
During the hearing, Go said the passage of Bayanihan 2 has also empowered the DA to further its efforts in assisting our farmers and fisherfolk during these trying times.
“The Bayanihan 2 directed the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines to prioritize agri-fishery businesses, agriculture cooperatives, farmers, fisherfolk and other agricultural workers in the provision of low interest and flexible loans,” he said.
“In addition, appropriations and standby fund of PHP24 billion were allocated to assist our agricultural sector,” he added.
Go, then, called on the department to safeguard and spend this appropriation judiciously.
During the deliberations, Go challenged Dar to go after agricultural smugglers and help eradicate systemic corruption in government.
Dar responded affirmatively but noted that a whole-of-government approach is also required to resolve the issue of agricultural smuggling.
Ending his manifestation, Go assured the country’s farmers and fisherfolk that his office is always open to listen to their concerns. (PR)