Senator Cynthia Villar pushed for a bill that will mandate local government units (LGU) to set aside funding for the development of agriculture.
Villar, chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, authored Senate Bill 1138 or the “Local Government Agriculture Development Act.” The bill seeks to institutionalize a 10 percent budgetary allocation from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of LGUs for the implementation of programs, activities, and services for agriculture and fisheries.
“We need to strengthen local government participation in agriculture development by making sure programs for agriculture will be funded and consistently implemented whoever gets elected– advocate man ng agriculture ang mayor o hindi,” Villar said.
“Just like how LGUs were required to allot budget for Gender and Development Program, we want local agriculture development programs to be funded also,” she added.
The bill seeks to mandate cities, municipalities and barangays to allocate a minimum o f 10 percent of their annual development fund to the agriculture and fishery sector’s value chain of production, processing, and marketing. The bill also seeks to amend for the purpose Sections 17, 106, 107, 110, 287, 443, 454, 482 (A), and 511-A of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code.
The Nacionalista Party senator also said LGUs will have more money to fund local agriculture development programs after the Supreme Court affirmed its ruling to increase their IRA.
The bill also seeks to professionalize the position of agriculturist for better extension services and will also make mandatory the appointment of agriculturists in cities and municipalities where agriculture and fisheries are a significant industry.
Under the bill, Local Agriculture Development Program shall focus on the areas identified as factors contributing to the competitiveness o f the agriculture and fisheries industry. These are inputs including but not limited to seeds, labor, research and development, mechanization and post-harvest equipment, irrigation maintenance, production, marketing, credit, guarantee, insurance, farming systems, and organic farming./Stacy Ang