Commentary: P2.8-B guarantees food security program
by T. Villavert
Iloilo City (14 August) -- Food security is guaranteed for Filipinos by the additional funds of some P2.8 billion released by the Department of Agriculture for the Arroyo administration's FIELDS program.
FIELDS, which stands for Fertilizer, Irrigation, and other rural infrastructure, research and Extension work, Loans, Dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and Seeds, was unveiled by President Arroyo during the DA-hosted National Food Summit. The program is in pursuit of her SONA commitments on agricultural modernization and food sufficiency and security.
The DA press report disclosed that as of the weekend, the government has already released P1.91 billion for FIELDS for the wet crop alone for the benefit of some 1.8 million farmers.
FIELDS is being implemented by the DA in the palay subsector through its five-harvest self-sufficiency program that aims to make the country at leat 98% sufficient in the grain in two years' time by targeting much higher harvests of 18.55 million MT next year and 19.77 million MT in 2010.
In her 8th SONA, President Arroyo stated that "to meet the challenge of today, we will feed our people now, not later, and help them get through these hard times. To meet the challenges of tomorrow, we must become more self-reliant, self-sufficient and independent, relying on ourselves more than on the world".
The DA press report disclosed that as of August 8, the government has already released, under 2008 FIELDS, some P1.3 billion for fertilizer assistance and subsidies; P3.15 billion for the repair and restoration of irrigation facilities; P694.74 million for extension services; P4.7 billion for farm-to-market roads, and earmarked P2.3 billion for flatbed dryers. The DA has also facilitated the release of P10.85 billion in loans to farmers covering under the FIELDS program.
Palay production this wet season covers a total of 1.67 million hectares of irrigated areas, with expected yields of 7.25 million MT; and 907,877 hectares or rainfed lands, with 3.28 million MT of project yields, the DA press report disclosed. (PIA) [top]