Partners from the National Sectoral Committees (NSCs) offered ways to address the needs of more Filipino farmers and fisherfolk during the consultation held by the Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF), on its 2016 draft plan and budget proposal last March 9, 2015 at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management Convention Hall in Diliman, Quezon City.
The consultation was conducted in line with DA Secretary Proceso Alcala’s instruction early this year to engage the PCAF’s NSCs in the planning and budgeting sessions of the Department to ensure efficient and effective spending in the implementation of its programs, projects and activities. It is also in consonance with the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) policy on participatory budgeting.
PCAF Exec. Dir. Ariel Cayanan explains the structure and functions of the agency as approved by the DBM.
In his message, PCAF Executive Director Ariel Cayanan underscored the importance of involving the private sector, through the NSCs, in the planning and budgeting process to tackle the needs and improve the lives of Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.
"In pursuit of attaining inclusive growth and poverty reduction, the government continues to espouse participatory planning and budgeting. This allows citizens and stakeholders to be part of making decisions and defining the nature and scope of government interventions. It is an honor for us at the PCAF to be a part of this effort as it is our mission to zealously promote and strengthen capacities in participatory and collaborative governance,” he said.
Aside from planning for 2016, the 2014 accomplishments and the approved 2015 plan and budget for the cross-cutting concerns and banner programs, as well as the PCAF’s structure and functions, were also presented to the estimated 100 participants.
Concerned DA units and agencies presented their respective 2016 draft budget proposals for cross-cutting concerns such as climate change, organic agriculture, farm-to-market roads and irrigation and banner programs such as fisheries, livestock, rice and corn and high value crops.
In line with these concerns, partners from the NSCs recommended various interventions that could help the sector perform more effectively.
Among the recommendations are incorporating farmers and fisherfolk database in the integrated multi-hazard risk management maps, providing credit facility for seaweed farming and providing support to organic farmers in the costly compliance to certification requirements.
They also sought for the formulation of local standards on organic farming, subsidizing irrigation fees of farmers and mainstreaming Gender and Development in DA programs and projects.
For the fisheries subsector, concerned private sector groups called for the DA to ensure poverty reduction through targeted livelihood interventions and enhanced resource management.
National Program Coordinator for Fisheries Asis Perez consults with private sector representatives from the fisheries subsector on the program’s 2016 draft plan and budget proposal.
“Local species with economic importance and viability should be promoted and livelihood projects for the poorest of the poor fisherfolk should be prioritized to reduce poverty and achieve inclusive growth,” private and civil society organizations said.
Fishing industry players also drew attention to institutional capacity, recommending the repair and construction of not less than 72 provincial fisheries buildings near coastal areas and provision of at least one multi-purpose vehicle per coastal municipality. They also asked the DA to pioneer public and private partnership in missionary areas.
Meanwhile, private sector entities involved in the livestock, poultry and feed crops subsector called for a dialogue with the DBM on the decrease in the 2016 draft budget proposal for the DA Livestock Program.
They also sought for transparency in the composition of the plan and budget’s capital expenditure by preparing a detailed breakdown.
“The Bureau and Animal Industry should also upgrade and establish quarantine offices in light of the ASEAN Economic Community and enhance existing feed analysis,” livestock, poultry and feed crops industry players added.
Meanwhile, private sector partners from the food staples subsector called for increased budget for the DA Rice Program as well as the mechanization program. They proposed for the adoption of other schemes other than the 85:15 counterparting approach for farm production and postharvest machinery and equipment. Under this scheme, the DA shoulders up to 85% of the equipment cost, while the remaining 15% serves as the equity or local counterpart of the beneficiaries.
They also stressed that the 2016 budget for irrigation should be able to support other crop production and small-scale irrigation projects and called for funding for additional facilities and equipment for soil-testing.
“Labor displacement due to mechanization also contributes to the poverty of farmers and fishers. To help them, agricultural communities can be provided with light infrastructure, rural roads, water sanitation and electricity,” they added.
Groups concerned with high value crops also called for increased budget for the DA High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) so that more small farmers will be provided with the support they need. They also proposed for the inclusion of cash crops in the planting initiatives of the HVCDP since these can be the farmers’ source of income while waiting for major crops to mature.