BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Department of Agriculture (DA-CAR) held the presentation of the proposed 2024 Plan and Budget in consultation with civil society organizations (CSOs) on March 1, 2023 at their office at Guisad, Baguio City to ensure participatory budgeting in the DA and progressively broaden the constructive partnership with CSOs in accordance with the DA’s Memorandum Circular No. 37, series of 2020.
Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PMED) Chief Susan D. Balanza presented the Policy Framework or the Ambisyon Natin 2040 which represents the long-term vision and aspirations of the Filipinos’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 and the 8-point economic agenda of the present administration.
She also presented the strategic plans of the DA Multi-Year Plan 2023-2028 which programmed programs, projects, and activities (PPAs) to be implemented in the next six years following the goal of achieving food security and strengthening the value chain, which includes short-term strategies that gear towards addressing persistent and immediate challenges confronted by the agriculture sector, medium-term, and long-term strategies that pursue the aspiration of ensuring the nation’s food security.
Further, boosting local production, reducing production costs, modernizing agriculture, ensuring availability of safe and nutritious food, PPAs that will improve food mobility and logistics, raising farmers’ and fisherfolks’ income, and proposed interventions to support passed agricultural laws were also enumerated as priority areas of the plan.
Each banner program namely, Masagana Rice Program, Corn Program, High Value Crops Development Program, and Livestock Program, as well as the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division, and Research Division also laid out its plans and proposed budget for 2024.
Organic Agriculture and the newest National Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture Program or NUPAP meanwhile have a budget proposal of 31M pesos and 35.9M pesos, respectively.
In the afternoon session of the program, the CSOs were tasked to group themselves according to their specific commodity to discuss and cite various issues, concerns and suggestions to further improve the agency’s proposals for next year. They have identified the challenges the agri-sector is facing, how the government can support in addressing them, and if the PPAs, interventions and targets reflected in the plans and budget address the challenges.
Suggestions were also listed including proper allocation and distribution of budget across PPAs, prioritization, innovations and methods to better deliver the targets.
Heirloom rice, as an indigenous commodity of the region, was specifically discussed as they pointed out its challenges in low production yield as there are only few who are producing the said commodity. Agriculture and Fisheries Council–Ifugao member Jimmy Lingayo suggested customized machinery and a higher budget allocation for the commodity that will be based on areas planted and targeted area expansion because this is one of the ways to revive heirloom rice in the region. He also suggested the participation of heirloom rice farmers by offering their rice lands for research and development to interested parties, especially to line agencies in order to further develop the commodity.
Balanza specifically noted the insights on the quality of machinery and equipment being given by DA as these are some of the main issues being raised to the agency, explaining that the machinery is going through quality control and bidding. “While there are still defects of the machinery, we are assuring you that the DA continues to train personnel who are inspecting the machinery and equipment without necessarily placing brands during biddings as everybody has the right to sell and promote their products,” she said. Accordingly, the agency always chooses the complying bidder over the lowest bidder.
She acknowledged every input the CSOs have contributed and said that the department will put them into consideration. By CEWaytan