GROWTH of the agriculture sector despite numerous setbacks in 2020 should convince the administration to give it priority especially in the proposed Bayanihan 3, said Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Monday.
“We’re very heartened to hear that the agri sector is on track to meet their projected 1% growth despite the pandemic and back-to-back-to-back typhoons and flooding. Gulugod ng bansa ang agrikultura. Tatlong beses isang araw natin kailangan ang magsasaka. Kaya’t kailangang tutukan ang kapakanan ng mga nagpapakain sa atin, lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya at iba pang sakuna,” Pangilinan said.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar on January 3 said that the agriculture sector registered positive contributions to the economy because “no matter what happens, people must eat.”
DA earlier projected a 2% growth for agri end of 2020, but was later on revised to 1% given the Covid-19 pandemic.
Agriculture growth for 2019 was 0.7%.
“We want to focus on social protection for farmers once the Senate starts deliberations on Bayanihan 3. All the previous discussions on agri budget revolved around rice sufficiency. That is already well-funded. Ang kailangan ngayon ay maramdaman ito direkta ng mga magsasaka, ibigay na direkta sa ating mga magsasaka,” Pangilinan said.
The P485 billion Bayanihan 3, filed by Senator Ralph Recto last December 14, aims to cushion the impact of an economic downturn given the Covid-19 pandemic and to address the urgent needs of the areas affected by the typhoons.
“We have to increase the capacity of our farmers. To do that, we need more post-harvest facilities. Farmers lack the capacity to dry their own palay. They lack capacity to access the market. Ang mga post-harvest facilities na ito ay income-enhancing projects dahil ibig sabihin hindi na nila kailangan pang magrenta o dumaan sa middleman. Mapupunta ang pera sa ating mga magsasaka at madadagdagan ang kanilang kita,” Pangilinan said.
“Protect our farmers. Konti lang ang increase ng budget ng agri for 2021, so we hope they can be given stimulus under Bayanihan 3,” he said.
Earlier, Pangilinan called for the government to also prioritize “frontliner farmers” in the Covid vaccination plan.
The Senate is expected to convene the Committee of the Whole in January to look into the country’s Covid vaccination game plan.
Senate resumes session on January 18.