Robredo vows to double agri budget, pushes shift to 'resilient' crops

Published November 29, 2021, 2:38 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday, Nov. 29, said she wants to review the allocation of the agricultural budget, reroute it to agricultural subsectors that need it the most, and retrain farmers to plant high-demand crops.

Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo speaks during the Agri 2022 Online Forum for presidential bets on Nov. 29, 2021. (Agri 2022/Facebook)

She again stressed that in the first year of her presidency, she will double the budget of the agricultural sector—from 1.7

percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to 3.4 percent. Doubling the budget will give the sector at least P116 billion for training, infrastructure, and development.

This is to be a par with the best practices of neighboring countries with a “flourishing” agricultural sector like Vietnam and Thailand.

But Robredo noted that it’s not only important to look at the budget as a whole, but also to review how it is being allocated.

“So kailangan tingnan natin hindi lang iyong buo pero tingnan din natin kung makatarungan ba iyong distribution ng buong budget. Kasi pag sinabi nating makatarungan ba, nasaan ba iyong opportunities (we need to look not at the whole but we need to look if the distribution of the whole budget is justified. When we say justified, where are the opportunities)?,” Robredo said during the Agri 2022 Online Forum for presidential bets.

The aspiring president stressed the need to find out the “most resilient” subsector of agriculture because that’s where more “opportunities” should be given.

READ: Robredo urges gov’t to increase investments in agriculture

Right now, Robredo explained that of the P58 billion agricultural budget, P15.5 billion goes to rice and P3 billion to fisheries. The rest of the subsectors receive only P1 billion-plus each.

The Vice President noted improving budget for the agricultural sector includes investing on climate-friendly crops, depending on the situation of crops and climate in every province in the country.

“It will be more difficult for us if the budget is too centralized in the sense if we continue the status quo, we have the same problem after 20 years,” she said in Filipino.

She also lamented that fisherfolk are “among the poorest” despite the Philippines having more water than land.