By Louise Maureen Simeon, March 6 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to ABS-CBN, PCOO

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte plans to allocate a higher budget for the farm sector to ensure sufficient food production amid a rapidly growing population, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.

During the regular Cabinet meeting Monday night, Piñol said Duterte assured local farmers and fishermen that agriculture and fisheries would be given a bigger budget share next year to be able to produce more food for the people.

“The President asked the DA to submit a budget proposal ‘10 times bigger’ than what it has now. He asked me how much we need and he will ask [Finance chief] Sonny Dominguez to give me the money,” Piñol said.

“The President emphasized the need for bigger support to agriculture as the country’s population is increasing by about two million every year,” Piñol said.

“He said there should also be greater focus on agricultural infrastructure.  He asked the concerned departments to revisit the roll-on, roll-off program of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” he added.

The ro-ro program involved the establishment of ports which were interconnected by a virtual sea highway using fastcrafts and ferry.

“The President also asked DA to focus on the farm-to-market food chain to ensure that farmers and fishermen are able to sell their produce at a fair price,” Piñol said.

Over the last two years, the DA was given a measly share of the national budget, getting only less than two percent of the total budgetary pie.