SEN. Christopher “Bong” Go expressed his support for the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) as he commended the agency for its swift response to the needs of Filipino farmers and fisherfolk during the pandemic.

Dar220200930 - Go lauds DA budget; dares DAR to curb smuggling
Agriculture Secretary William Dar inspects a rice farm in Nueva Ecija on Sept. 26, 2020. He vowed that the National Food Authority will buy palay (unmilled rice) from farmers at P19 per kilo.

Go extended full support to the budget of the DA, its banner programs and its attached agencies, including the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

“I am here to manifest my full support to the budget of the Department of Agriculture, headed by Secretary William Dar, its banner programs and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources,” Go said during his manifestation at a public hearing, conducted by the Senate Committee on Finance on Friday, October 16.

Go explained his support for the agriculture budget because its thrust, priorities and strategies support the vision of “a food-secure and resilient Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolk.”

Go, then, lauded the swift response of the Department of Agriculture to address the dismal effects of the ongoing pandemic.

“The Department provided financial subsidy to more than 530,000 rice farmers. They have released and continue to release zero-interest loans to marginalized small farmers and fisherfolk, and agriculture-based micro and small enterprises,” Go cited.

“In addition, they have extended support services, education, training and agricultural equipment and facilities to our poverty-stricken farmers and fisherfolk. The help they provided, in turn, safeguarded our nation’s food security, which is vital for each and everyone’s sustenance,” he added.

Earlier, Go renewed his call for the DA to intensify its support for the agricultural sector in providing livelihood, food security and in boosting economic activities in the countryside.

“Especially at this time that the crisis has affected our economy, we are ‘back to basics.’ We have seen now how important agriculture is to our country and to our livelihood,” Go said.

He also called for the DA to complement the Balik Probinsya, Balik Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program in revitalizing the country’s agricultural sector as many Filipinos expressed willingness to participate in the program and be reintegrated in the rural communities. He emphasized that the government must provide agricultural training and strengthen programs promoting agri-preneurship.

During the deliberations, Go challenged DA Secretary William Dar to go after agricultural smugglers and help eradicate systemic corruption in government.

“Ubusin mo ‘yan (Finish the reign of smugglers),” Go urged. “Patunayan mo. With one year and (eight) months na lang ang natitira sa termino ng Presidente (Rodrigo Duterte) (Prove it. With only one year and (eight) months left before the term of the President (Rodrigo Duterte) ends),” he added.

Dar responded in the affirmative but also said that a whole-of-government approach is required to resolve the issue on agricultural smuggling.

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