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Farmers call for balance of interests between producers, consumers

THE GOVERNMENT needs to better balance the interests of consumers and producers to ensure food security, a farm organization said.

Danilo V. Fausto, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. president, added at a virtual briefing Thursday that producers need a level playing field to better compete with imports.

“Our government should provide (preference to) local production in order to ensure in the long run enough food (for) our increasing population,” Mr. Fausto said.

“Little priority is given resulting in lack of resources and (funding) to the agriculture sector,” he added.  

Meanwhile, Mr. Fausto also called for the mandatory allocation of 10% of local government units’ (LGUs) internal revenue allotment (IRA) for food security programs. Under the Supreme Court’s Mandanas-Garcia ruling to be implemented in 2022, LGUs are set to receive a larger IRA allocation from the national budget.

As a result, Mr. Fausto sought the issuance of an executive order (EO) that will direct LGUs to set aside a part of their IRA allocation for food security in order to mitigate the potential impact of the ruling on the Department of Agriculture (DA) budget.

He noted that in 2021, the DA only has a 1.5% share of the budget of P4.51 trillion and speculated that some national agencies will need to be defunded to create fiscal space for the ruling.

“We think that the DA is one of the government agencies that will have its budget reduced. With an EO, I think it is possible. We do not need legislation from Congress because it will take too long. The ruling will be implemented next year which means that we should anticipate it,” Mr. Fausto said.  

“This will mitigate the effects of any reduction in the resources of the DA and help develop the agriculture sector. It should be the task of the LGUs in coordination with the DA, to provide farm extension services to trickle down efficient production techniques and technology in food production and diversification,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave 

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