Press Release
December 9, 2007


Senator Edgardo J. Angara, chair of Senate Subcommittee C on Finance, calls for the redirection of the agriculture sector budget towards research and development (R&D).

He pointed out that for the past 17 years, the average growth in agriculture averages to 3.14%. "When you reach a 3% growth, it is already dramatic because it is more than the population growth." Prior to the implementation of the Agricultural Fisheries and Modernization Program (AFMP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA), growth rate in agriculture is only 2%.

"However, also over the last years, Philippine competitiveness has steadily and consistently slipped as a result of our measly investment on education, health, research and development and basic infrastructure. Being a predominantly agricultural country, we need to invest in R&D in agriculture," said the Senator.

With this, Angara proposed for an additional P100 million for the implementation of various agricultural research projects especially in biotechnology and an additional P100 million for promotion and development of organic farming under the AFMP budget.

During the Senator's days as Agriculture secretary, he allocated 500 million for biotechnology and another 500 million for scholarships.

Angara is likewise pushing for an increased allocation in the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) integrated R&D program for organic VELERO (vegetables, legumes and root crops) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in the amount of P3.84 million. Earlier, the Senator pressed for an additional P9.67 million for fish shell production improvement in the region.

To further strengthen R&D, the budget for a continuing research partnership between Philrice and Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), University of the Philippines-Los Banos and the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (BPRE) is increased by P10 million.

"We cannot begin to modernize and further improve agriculture unless we invest in R&D. Our farm productivity will improve if we are able to adopt modern technology and produce competent technical manpower," Angara pointed out.

With this, the Senator is pushing for a more aggressive marketing development and linkages in the agriculture sector.

"Aside from R&D, we need to know how we will market our products," he said explaining the additional P100 million allocation for AFMP's market development and international linkages.

Other changes in the budget include additional P50 million for marine research and hatchery in the BFAR budget, P38 million for the establishment of coconut nursery seednut farm for the Philippine Coconut Authority and P10 million for the Aurora rice program for R&D and marketing.

"We need to make agriculture our foundation for development and we will achieve this through a stronger R&D support."

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