Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Angara eyes money for agriculture as planting season sets in.
Senator Edgardo Angara is pressing for long-term investments in agriculture as parts of the country enter the rice-planting season this June.
In a statement, the Senator cited UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that Filipinos eat an average of more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of rice each per year.
“Also, the country has continually faced the problem of high food cost, and it has the highest food prices among the Asean countries,” Angara added, noting that because Filipinos are accustomed to eating rice, the government has been considering increased rice importation to meet demands.
Angara warned that “this spells bad news, especially during the toughest times where the country is experiencing not only financial but also health crisis that is damaging our economy as a result of incapacitated labor force from killer diseases.”
He suggested the need for government to step in and be more aggressive. “We are spending billions of resources which otherwise could be allocated to long-term investments to boost our agricultural productivity. Our failure to initiate long-term and focused efforts to boost agricultural productivity could result to more poverty.”
According to Angara, the government budget for agricultural expenditures back in 2007 amounted to P35.55 billion, which was 8.16-percent lower than the previous year’s level. In the same year, agricultural loans which added up to P560.04 billion increased by 9.94 percent. About 24 percent of the loans were utilized for production purposes.
To address the problem, Angara has introduced the Agriculture Fisheries and Modernization Act as a masterplan for agricultural modernization which, he added, other countries in Southeast Asia have adopted. He is now prodding the government to ensure RP’s food security through long-term investments in agriculture.
By Business Mirror
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