PHOTO  Fishery wastage observed at fish ports of Bulan in Sorsogon, Masbate Pass, Masbate Bay, Ticao Pass, Buriass Pass, and Sibuyan Sea due to COVID 19 lockdown.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), for its 2021 budget, was proposed at P280 billion, to address the Plant Plant Plant program among others. The 333% jump from the P64.7 billion in 2020, aside from the Plant Plant Plant budget, was for rice buffering by the National Food Authority, upscaling of Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita, distribution of seeds and fertilizer, enhancing livestock and poultry subsectors and of small ruminant, increased white corn production for snack and supplemental food, expansion of coconut production, coconut replanting, development of fisheries ( aquaponics, aquaculture, fish cages), and urban farming and gulayan in schools and barangay.

It also includes a cash for work program and  P20 billion for  food logistics and food market even as supply and logistics disruption occurred due to the COVID 19 crisis and lockdown. However, even the proposed budget appears to be just a “wish list.”

The agriculture sector has  been plagued by food movement and transportation problems resulting in huge losses from throwing away of rotting vegetables from Benguet and other provinces and of wasted fish production from fish ports of Bulan in Sorsogon, Masbate Pass, Masbate Bay, Ticao Pass, Burias Pass, and Sibuyan Sea.

The logistics problem has even been worsened by inability to transport animal and meat products from Visayas and Mindanao to Luzon due to the African swine fever (ASF) quarantine restrictions. (Melody Aguiba)