FARMING, FISHING TO BE MORE PROFITABLE UNDER POE PRESIDENCY
Photo above shows farmers planting palay. Notice that their feet are submerged in the mud. They cannot stand, they cannot seat, but their palay harvests had a price control in the market notwithstanding that inputs of production like fertilizer had no price control. Moreover, to produce one (1) kilogram of palay requires 1,500 kilograms of water from land preparation to ripening stage.
Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero has vowed to make farming and fishing in the Philippines more lucrative by providing more support services and bigger budget allocation to the agriculture sector, should he and presidential running mate, Sen. Grace Poe win in the May 9 elections.
The independent vice-presidential bet said the lack of support services from the government to farmers has led to the poor state of agriculture in the Philippines, which makes the industry unappealing to pursue as a career unlike in other countries.
Escudero recalled that during his time as chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, the Department of Agriculture (DA) had a program to entice the youth to go into farming by taking them to farm tours and seminars.
“Sabi ko, ituro ninyo nga sa akin iyong isang tao na magsasaka na ang pangarap niya ay maging magsasaka katulad niya iyong anak niya,” the vice-presidential frontrunner said, recalling his conversation with agriculture officials.
The veteran legislator opposed the program, saying the most effective way to recruit a new breed of farmers and fisherfolk is by making the sector profitable.
“Hangga’t hindi tumataas ang kita ng magsasaka at mangingisda, hindi po iyan magiging attractive na hanap-buhay ng ating mga kababayan. Pero kung mapataas natin ang kita nila, hindi na kailangang mangumbinsi pa ang gobyerno na magsaka,” he said in reference to the government’s solution to concerns about the ageing population of the agriculture workers in the Philippines.
The latest figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that the agriculture sector employed 11.84 million individuals in 2013, representing 31 percent of the national workforce.
Also, the PSA said that compared to other sectors, agriculture has the lowest average daily wage at P156.80 for farmers and P178.43 for fisherfolk.
“It is our goal under the ‘Gobyernong may Puso’ of Sen. Grace Poe to set aside P300 billion, or more than three times its current budget, for the agriculture sector to improve production and the household income of farmers,” Escudero said.
Under the P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016, the agriculture sector has a total allocation of P94 billion, including the P40.2 billion earmarked for the Department of Agriculture and P32.7 billion for the National Irrigation Authority.
The son of the late Agriculture Secretary Salvador Escudero III said, “the government has to allot at least P300 billion annually for agriculture to modernize the sector and build the much needed agriculture infrastructures like farm-to-market roads, irrigation and post-harvest facilities”.
“With a higher budget, the government can also extend free irrigation service, crop insurance and subsidies that will increase productivity and household income,” Escudero added./MP