Technology Transfer Budget at P6.6B
The government needs to further beef up its budget for agriculture technology transfer as a key to farm modernization and so as to comply with the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act's (AFMA)-mandated one percent of gross value added (GVA) equivalent to P6.6 billion.
The agriculture sector must have already been receiving its stimulant from the budgetary increase poured in by the Aquino Administration, particularly Congress's General Appropriations Act, for agriculture.
Agriculture technology, also classified research and development (R&D), is receiving a consolidated amount placed at P2.5 billion for 2013. That figure must have already been doubled from five-to-10-year-ago level.
This consists of the budget of the Department of Agriculture under AFMA (Republic Act 8435) and its attached agency Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, Forestry, and Natural Resources Research and Development (Pcaarrd-Department of Science and Technology), and of state universities and colleges through the Commission on Higher Education (SUC-CHED).
DA-AFMA and BAR is receiving a combined estimate of P1.45 billion for 2013, a significant leap from P820 million as of 2005 level; PCAARRD, around P750 million; and SUCs, around P200 million.
And yet such budget level is just one-third of the legislated AFMA budget.
This is needed to enhance technology's reach to farmers that need help in modernization through improved inputs - such as high yielding seeds, improved strains of fish fingerlings or crablets - cheap machineries such as a portable, highland corn mill, and processing-value adding aid by turning, for instance, sweet sorghum into feed or alcogel (hand sanitizer).
"We're happy that there's a significant increase in the budget for R&D to the prodding of (DA) Secretary (Proceso) Alcala. This is the essence of AFMA - to modernize our agriculture sector in order to uplift the livelihood of our farmers," BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar told reporters at the National Research Symposium.
"But if you consider the required level of investment for R&D, it should be one percent of gross value added at constant prices. The GVA in 2011 according to NSCB was P667 billion pesos, so around P6 billion should be allocated. …