Lack of gov’t will cause of woes – Cordillera tillers

LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET—Farmers in the Cordillera Administrative Region have blamed the government’s lack of political will to implement the food security provisions of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) for the worst food crisis the country may be facing in years.

The farmers told members of the agriculture committee of the House of Representatives on Friday they had yet to reap the benefits of Republic Act No. 8435, or AFMA, 10 years after it was enacted into law.

The agriculture committee, chaired by Palawan Rep. Abraham Khalil Mitra, called for a consultation with the farmers at Benguet State University here to look into complaints that AFMA has failed to deliver on its promise to uplift the farmers’ lot.

Abono party-list Rep. Robert Raymund Estrella said it was likely Congress would review the law following the complaints.

“Nine years from the approval of AFMA, the major objectives have yet to be fully attained for the significant growth, intensification and development of our agriculture sector,” Estrella said in a resolution he filed in Congress.

Jose Andiso Sr., Benguet Farmers Federation Inc. president, said one reason for the law’s failure may be the Department of Agriculture’s system of implementing programs that had been drawn “upstairs and not from the farmer’s fields.”

He also asked where the initial P20-billion appropriation and subsequent P17 billion allotted for AFMA over the six years following the law’s implementation went.

Pedro Jerry Baliang, DA Cordillera deputy director, said the agriculture department only implemented programs formulated after consultations with local governments and farmers.

Felix Dalacan, provincial agriculture and fisheries council chair in Kalinga, said the government’s failure to provide accessibility to markets, low cost fertilizer and seeds had caused farmers to lose their ability to sustain the high cost of production of rice and corn. Delmar Cariño and Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes, Inquirer Northern Luzon.(PDI)

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