MANILA -- With an increased budget this year, the Department of Agriculture will vigorously pursue initiatives to attain sufficiency in major staples by 2013 that include rice, white corn, cassava, and other basic commodities.
In his 2011 year-end report, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said a big chunk of the DA’s 2012 budget of P61.73 billion will be spent to implement the Food Staples Sufficiency Program, which is the centerpiece program of the Aquino administration.
An important feature of the FSSP is the frontloading of investments, particularly on infrastructure like irrigation, farm-to-market roads, and postharvest facilities.
“We hope to regain momentum in irrigation, with particular focus on cheaper and shorter gestating small-scale irrigation system,” Alcala said.
The DA, through the National Irrigation Administration, with an approved budget of P24.5 billion for 2012, will construct new irrigation systems, and restore and rehabilitate existing ones, servicing a total of 224,850 hectares, broken down as: new areas - 87,405 has; rehabilitated areas - 79,246 has; and restored - 57,199 has.
For its part, the DA’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management will spend P500 million to construct 4,584 small-scale irrigation projects that include: 1,283 shallow tube wells, 75 small water reservoirs, 56 small water impounding projects and 3,130 spring development.
For postharvest and other infrastructure, the DA has allotted a budget of P11.28 billion. This will be spent to construct 2,777 drying, storage and processing facilities, and 4,526 units of dryers, storage and milling equipment, including dairy equipment and machineries.
The DA will also construct major agri-fishery trading centers such as in La Trinidad, Benguet; Urdaneta, Pangasinan; San Jose, Camarines Sur; and in Argao, Cebu.
For banner or commodity programs, the DA will spend a total of P11.35 billion, broken down as: P6.2 billion for rice; P951 million - corn; P1.3 billion - high-value crops; P1 billion - livestock; and P1.9 billion – fisheries.
To hasten the transport of farm and fishery products from production areas, the DA in partnership with local government units will construct and rehabilitate more than P5 billion worth of farm-to-market roads (FMRs), totaling 1,284 kilometers, under foreign-assisted and locally-funded projects.
“We have redesigned FMRs so that at least 50 percent of the budget goes to concreting critical road sections. This would ensure that the roads do not disappear after a flood,” said Alcala.
“We want to make sure that we do not only build roads and dams. We should build them better. Monitor them more closely, and ensure that they serve the purpose for which they were built,” said Alcala, who is a civil engineer by profession. *PNA