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PRIORITIZE AGRI SECTOR RECOVERY —AGRI PARTY-LIST

The next president should make agriculture recovery a top priority during their administration, AGRI Party-list said Friday.

AGRI Party-list first nominee and former judge Frank Lobrigo issued the statement as damage and losses caused by Typhoon Odette to Philippine agriculture soared to ₱8 billion.

Lobrigo urged presidential candidates to increase the budget for agriculture, telling them to follow the lead of Vice President Leni Robredo who vowed to double the national budget for the agriculture sector to at least ₱116 billion in her first year of office as president.

“Sana lahat ng mga kandidato sa pagkapangulo ay gawing prayoridad ang pagbangon ng sektor ng agrikultura sa kanilang panunungkulan sakali man silang mahalal bilang pangulo ng bansa,” Lobrigo said.

“Napakalaki na ng pinsalang dulot ng Odette sa ating mga pananim. At idagdag pa natin ang pandemya, mahirap talagang makabangon ang ating mga magsasaka kung hindi natin tutukan at paglalaanan ng atensyon at resources ang agriculture recovery ng ating bansa,” he added.

The latest figures from the Department of Agriculture show that some 113,479 farmers and fishers in 11 regions, mostly in the Visayas and parts of Mindanao, were affected by the typhoon.

The volume of production loss spiked to 171,222 metric tons covering 341,280 hectares of agricultural areas. Affected regions include Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen, and Caraga.

Lobrigo urged presidential candidates to increase the budget for agriculture, telling them to follow the lead of Vice President Leni Robredo who vowed to double the national budget for the agriculture sector to at least ₱116 billion in her first year of office as president.

“Isipin n’yo, 1.7% lang ng national budget ang inilalaan sa agriculture sector. At this rate, with the amount of damages caused by Odette and the current pandemic, it would take years for our farmers to get back on their feet,” the former judge said.

“We have long been pushing for this. As we have been consistently saying, we need to invest in infrastructure that could help farmers and fisherfolk increase their yield and make their products more marketable.”

Aside from increasing the budget for agriculture, Robredo also said the distribution of these funds should also be reviewed.

According to the Vice President , in 2021, the DA allocated ₱15.5 billion to the rice sector, ₱3 billion to the fisheries sector, and a measly ₱1 billion each for other banner programs of the department in the crop and livestock sector.

AGRI also previously backed Robredo’s earlier statement that infrastructure programs should focus on rural development so it would have a “direct impact” on helping uplift the lives of farmers and fisherfolk in rural areas. 

“We have long been pushing for this. As we have been consistently saying, we need to invest in infrastructure that could help farmers and fisherfolk increase their yield and make their products more marketable,” he said. 

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