P3.4 B slashed from agriculture budget

Funding of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for 2017 is reduced to P50.6 billion from P54 billion this year.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol told the House appropriations committee chaired by Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles that funding for projects was slashed by more than P12 billion, from P20.5 billion to P8.4 billion.

Pinol, however said the allocation for programs increased by P7 billion from P19.9 billion to P26.9 billion.

The rice production enhancement program would get an additional P2.6 billion from P7.1 billion to P9.7 billion while high value crops would have an increment of P1.1 billion, from P2.9 billion to P4 billion.

Piñol could not explain why Malacanang reduced funding for the DA.

Piñol said the biggest of the budget cuts is P2.6 billion which is intended for “various programs recommended by local government units.”

The P489 million for the “Socsargen (South Cotabato, Sarangani, General Santos) integrated food production program” and P586 million for the “implementation of Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) program,” whose beneficiaries are rebel returnees were also scrapped.

The “Philippine rural development project” also suffered a huge budgetary cut, from P9.1 billion to P2.1 billion, or a P7-billion reduction. Farm-to-market roads funding was also slashed from P7.4 billion to P5.4 billion.