ILOILO CITY –The Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas (Region 6) is hoping to sustain its gains following the 6.3 percent growth record of the agriculture, forestry, and fishing (AFF) sector in 2020, a big jump from its .5 percent growth in 2019.
“We are very happy because at least despite the pandemic, our farmers, our fisherfolks, and livestock growers continue with their usual activities,” Remelyn R. Recoter, DA 6 regional executive director, said in a phone interview Tuesday.
She said the gains could not have been possible if not for the support of the government that provided funds under the Bayanihan I and II and through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
“We would like to credit that to the government for providing fund support,” she added.
Recoter said out of the 6.2 percent growth, the crops contributed a big share. Of the funds infused, rice farmers were provided with free seeds and fertilizers.
They also received farm machinery from the Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) and financing support from Landbank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines.
Training and extension services were also made available, Recoter added.
“We hope to sustain it but course if the funds are available,” she said.
She said they are anticipating some changes in the structure of the agriculture sector once the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the Mandanas- Garcia Petition takes effect in 2022.
In the ruling, the SC said “the just share of LGUs from the national taxes is not limited to the national internal revenue taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) but includes collections by the Bureau of Customs”.
She said under the ruling there will be devolution of the tasks of the agriculture department, especially those cited in the Local Government Code (LGC), to local government units (LGUs).
Recoter said there were suggestions that there has to be a clear number of how many percent of the 27 to 30 percent increase in the allocation of LGUs would be spent for agriculture.
She added that the implementation of the ruling would determine who among the local chief executives are sincere in helping sustain the gains of agriculture.
During the 2020 Report on the Economic Performance of Western Visayas on April 29, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Western Visayas also said the region has the fastest AFF growth in the country. (PNA)