Villar vows amendments to proposed DA budget

SEN. Cynthia Villar on Tuesday vowed to introduce amendments to the P184.1 billion proposed budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) as the National Food Authority (NFA) and the allocation for fertilizer importation face P3-billion budget cuts.

In an ambush interview, Villar said that while the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, which she chairs, already approved the DA’s proposed budget for next year, various revisions will be introduced during the plenary debates.

“We have to go to plenary. I am suggesting many changes, like the P3-billion budget cut for NFA, I want to transfer it to the first border facilities,” she said.

The Department of Budget and Management submitted at least P12 billion proposed funding for NFA for next year.

Villar said that the DA also agreed to slash the budget allocation for fertilizer importation to P3 billion and realign the money for composting facilities.

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“My policy question includes imported chemical fertilizer or organic fertilizer. When it comes to fertilizer, the DA agreed to slash it by P3 billion for the development of composting facilities,” she said.

The senator said that the allocation for hybrid seeds will also be reduced to allot more funding for inbred seeds.

“Many farmers are complaining about the hybrid seedlings, they prefer inbred seedlings. So, we are hoping half will be given to inbred as farmers said the inputs for hybrid seeds are costly,” she said.

At the same time, Villar said she has been pushing for the first border facility to prevent the smuggling of agricultural products.

“It has been three years since we allocated a budget for the first border facility. We have no first border facility which resulted in the entry of ASF (African swine fever) in the country,” she said.

The government is finalizing the establishment of the first border facility in the country.

“There are proposals to build the first border control in Subic, but it’s not yet final. We just prepared the budget, as the local agriculture stakeholders are affected by the unabated smuggling in the country,” Villar said.

She said the private sector is offering to lend land to be used for the first border facility.

“We still need to build the laboratory, maybe offices, for those who will man that and the disposal of wastes,” she added.

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