Press Release
December 13, 2016


MANILA - At the insistence of Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, the Department of Agriculture now benchmarks its programs on increased farmers' incomes.

At the confirmation hearing for his ad interim appointment at the Commission on Appointments (CA), Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Tuesday said: "Our target is 6,000 pesos [average income per month] at the end of the term of the President, that's a modest target. But we believe we could achieve that because right now there are interventions that we are doing with the fisheries and farming sector."

The average income of farmers is 150 pesos a day or 4,500 pesos a month, he added.

This income bracket involves 40 percent of the country's total farming population because there are financed farmers involved in high-value crops production, Piñol said.

Pangilinan, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food and former Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, credited the previous administration's focus on the sector for the improvement of agriculture's performance in the preceding quarter.

"There may have been critics of the policy of separating four key agriculture agencies from DA and placing them under the Office of the President in 2014 but the 3rd quarter 2016 GDP numbers showing a 3.5 percent increase in agri output despite El Niño is proof that the policy was generally a sound one. Natutukan nang husto ang mga agri concerns," Pangilinan said.

In the last administration, the National Food Authority, the Philippine Coconut Authority, the National Irrigation Administration, and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority were transferred from the DA to the OP, under the direction control and supervision of then OPAFSAM Secretary Pangilinan.

"The reason why I raised these issues of income as a benchmark is that based on the programs of the Department of Agriculture in the past and not only in the previous administration, we focused on productivity and then our deliverables are number of equipment delivered, number of coconut hectares fertilized, number of coconut trees planted but it does not identify the increase in income of our farmers," Pangilinan said.

He cited the changes he made in the mission and vision statements of the Philippine Coconut Authority which now include increase in incomes as part of the mission.

"If fertilization of a coconut tree will mean doubling yields in a period of two years, what does that mean in terms of income? Because if we put in place fertilization as a program, then we should have incomes as the output rather than just fertilization as the output," Pangilinan said.

"The outcome has to be increased incomes. The interventions of value adding sa coconut, ang ginawa natin (what we did), we projected an income of as much as 80 thousand a year for coco enterprise intervention for the farmer. I think that's the direction taken by the agriculture department so that we actually see lives improved. Madaling sabihing tataas ang (It's easy to say that there will be increased) productivity," he added.

"The number one dollar earner in agriculture is coconut oil exportation yet the poorest farmer is the coconut farmer. He is poorer than the rice farmer. He is poorer than the vegetable farmer. Where is the money going? That's a huge amount of money coming in for the country in terms of export earnings. But it's not going to the farmer, the number one resource," Pangilinan pointed out.

"We should be doing benchmarking so that our interventions would have a clear deliverable, otherwise, what's the point of spending billions of pesos for irrigation, for farm-to-market roads, for post-harvest facilities if after six years farmers' incomes remain the same or would have a negligible decrease," he said.

The CA deferred the confirmation of Piñol after a question was raised on the Quantitative Restriction (QR) on Rice. The CA is set to resume the confirmation hearing early next year, 2017.

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