By Adora Rodriguez, DA-AFID
To roll out immediate interventions for food production and availability, food accessibility and affordability, and food price stabilization, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has requested for a P32 billion supplemental fund for the expeditious implementation of the Ahon Lahat, Pagkain Sapat Kontra sa COVID-19 or ALPAS COVID-19, on top of the department’s existing programs.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar explained that the supplemental budget proposal for ALPAS COVID-19 is in line with the mandate of the DA to “ensure a food-secure Philippines much more in time of the health emergency period”.
“With this pandemic, there is tightening of global food supply and we know that when there is not enough food, disorder is probable. While improving our food adequacy level, we should aim for food security. If no action is done, the threat of hunger is as real as the threat of the virus,” Dar said.
According to the Secretary, food production areas must be expanded to increase level of productivity.
“We need to improve efficiencies in production and enhance projects and activities to ensure affordability and availability of food supply,” Dar added, stressing that all Filipinos must be involved in government-led actions to prevent food scarcity.
The agri chief further explained that the supplemental budget will be used to immediately mobilize support to farmers and other players in the food value chain.
From the requested additional budget, P7B will be used to increase the procurement fund of the National Food Authority to buy palay from local farmers.
Another P1B will be used for the upscaling of KADIWA ni Ani at Kita, including production monitoring, provincial services on wheels, transportation and trucking services of produce from source to the Metropolis, and the provision for KADIWA on wheels.
A total of P8.5B will go to the Rice Resiliency Project (RRP) following a clustering approach. Subprojects under RRP include the Enhanced Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (P2B) for provision of fertilizer to the 947 targeted municipalities growing inbred rice; the Expanded Inbred Rice Production (P3B) to support advance planting during wet and dry season in non-RCEF areas in the form of seeds, fertilizer, mechanization, credit and extension; and the Hybrid Rice Production in Suitable areas (P3.5B) to expand rice growing-areas with good irrigation.
Also following a clustering approach, the Integrated Livestock and Corn Resiliency Project will be allotted P1B to enable higher production of livestock in corn producing areas.
Another P1B will be apportioned to the Expanded Small Ruminants and Poultry Project to ensure an increase in the production of meat, chicken and eggs.
The Corn for Food Project, which seeks to intensify the production of corn in areas such as Cebu and Cagayan de Oro where it is consumed as food staple will get P300 million (M), while the Coconut-base Diversification Project, which involves the intercropping of vegetables and fruits, and raising small ruminants and poultry under coconut trees will be allotted P1B.
The Urban Agriculture Project to be implemented in major urban communities will get P500M, while the Revitalized Gulayan Project will be allotted P1B for the implementation of the Gulayan sa Paaralan, Gulayan sa Barangay, and Gulayan in public areas and idle private lots.
For fisheries, the Urban Aquaphonics Project and the Enhanced Aquaculture and Sustainable Capture Fisheries in Inland Waters will get a total of P1B.
Financial assistance will be granted to farmers affected by the drop in farmgate prices under the Expanded Sure Aid Recovery Project which will be allotted P3 B, while an increase in insurance coverage will be accorded to those growing crops and raising livestock and fisheries under the Expanded Agriculture Assistance Project which will also get P3B from the proposed supplemental budget.
In addition to the assistance provided by the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, DA will grant Social Amelioration, with the P3B recommended budget, to farmers, fishers and farm workers.
Also, a total of P500M will be allotted for the Acquisition of Protective Personal Equipment such as surgical masks and other accessories to protect DA personnel from COVID-19, while P200M will go the Sustained Information, Education and Communication Project of the Department.