P41 B feeding program of DepEd, other NGAs urged to be spent for buying farmers’ produce

November 10, 2021

The P41 billion combined feeding program budget of the Department of Education (DepED) and other government agencies should be spent buying Filipino farmers’production as mandated in the Sagip Saka Act, Senator Francis Pangilinan, vice presidential candidate said.

   During a virtual forum “Halalan 2022 Para sa AGrikultura” hosted by the Philippine Chamber of AGriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), Pangilinan asserted it is time that government devotes itself supporting Filipino farmers.

   “Under the 2021 budget, the combined budgets of the DepEd, DSWD, DILG, DOH—not including local government units—for feeding programs or food related programs is P41 billion,” said Pangilinan. 

   That is many times bigger than the previous budget of NFA (National Food Authority) for buying farmers’ unmilled rice at P6 billion, he said.

   The Department of Social Welfare and Development’s budget for hot meals is P4.6 billion annually.

   “This should be spent directly for buying production of farmers and fishermen so that we will also get the best quality of farmers’ production.”

   This will shorten the supply chain—meaning middlemen’s cut will be eliminated while farmers can earn higher from the direct buying.

  Department of Health has many provincial hospitals and also has a feeding program.  The Department of Interior and Local Government maintains provincial jails that need buying agricultural products. 

   LGUs buy relief packs.

   “All of these should be bought directly from farmers and fishermen.  Sagip Saka provides for that.  There is no longer a need for public bidding.  Negotiated contracts and purchases will be the scheme for LGUs and national government agencies (NGAs).

   The government should continue to implement best practices in agriculture networking systems.

   For one,  before the pandemic, Jollibee and Nestlé participated in a successful experiment of buying the produce of onion and coffee farmers, making them their “big brother.

   “Kasama ang ating office at iba pang kumpanya, na ginawa ito para makatulong sa usapin ng cold-storage, transport at logistics, dagdag na kaalaman sa bookkeeping and the like,” said Pangilinan.

   The Kalasag Farmers Cooperative of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija as of 2008 only had 60 tons of onion harvest. With the marketing help, as of 2015, their onion production reached 500 tons

   Last year, almost P3 billion worth of agricultural goods was purchased by LGUs directly from farmers through his office’s network-marketing support, Pangilinan said.

   “Camarines Sur Multipurpose Cooperative, with 2,300 farmer-members, were able to sell rice to 13 LGUs in Camarines Sur in the middle of the pandemic. In 2019, the revenue of CamSur Multipurpose Cooperative from agricultural produce is P7 billion. But in 2020, with the purchase of the 13 LGUs, they earned P62 million.”

   This scheme brings higher income to farmers. For instance, the LGU of Arayat, Pampanga, Barangay San Juan, purchased directly from farmers. Instead of paying only P17 per kilo, they bought at P19 per kilo.

   In turn, milled rice price dropped to P38 to P37 per kilo because the LGU bought directly from farmers.

   :Sa halip na binili ng barangay sa palengke ng 44 or 45, nakatipid sya ng mga pitong piso kada isang kilo at dahil dito nakabigay pa, nakabili ng dagdag na tatlong kilo kada pamilya sa usapin ng lockdown dahil sa Sagip Saka Law.”  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

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