The Department of Agriculture has proposed a P175 billion for Tier 2 of its budget for next year.
DA Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Pinol, in a press conference on Wednesday, said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has only approved P36.4 billion for the first tier of the DA budget for 2018, which is 21 percent lower than this year’s budget allocation of PHP46 billion due to the Department’s underspending.
Pinol said he was hopeful that the department would get at least PHP120 billion for Tier 2 budget for 2018 should economic managers thumb down the PHP175-billion request.
“The worst case scenario is PHP120 billion. That’s what I’m fighting for because that’s also the commitment of the President (Rodrigo Duterte) to support the Department,” he said.
“That’s the minimum that would make me happy. If it will be approved and I’m keeping my fingers crossed, it will be the biggest budget of DA so far,” he added.
Pinol said bulk of the proposed DA budget for 2018, or around PHP50 billion, would give farmers easy access to financing called the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) Program.
Under the PLEA Program, farmers and fishermen will be identified and accredited through satellite geo-tagging, which establishes the exact farm or fishing grounds to prevent unqualified applicants from abusing the loaning program.
Identified and accredited farmers and fishermen will be issued computerized ID cards with QR codes, the only things needed in applying for loans ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP25,000 from their credit cooperatives or rural banks in their communities.
The loan will be granted without collateral, at 6 percent annual interest rate, and payable in two years to give farmers and fishermen enough time to make use of their loans to improve their productivity.
Unlike other loaning programs which take months before the money is released, Pinol said, one of the features of the PLEA is the immediate release of the borrowed amount within five days given the reality that farmers only borrow money when they need it most, like when they need to buy seeds and fertilizers at the start of the planting season.
The loaning program requires loan applicants to use modern technology, certified seeds and DA-endorsed planting materials to ensure greater productivity