Palace defends economic achievements from criticisms

MALACANANG expects to post significant growth in the agriculture sector given the increased budget allotted to the Department of Agriculture this year, which is expected to uplift the national economy as a whole.

In a press conference on Thursday, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda fended off criticisms that say the country will not experience much economic growth this year due to weak government policies.

Lacierda said the country posted increased agricultural production despite the storms and calamities that hit the Philippines last year.

“Agricultural productivity is growth, is real and equitable growth. So many people would be benefited from increased agricultural productivity,” he said in response to comments claiming that the government hasn’t produced more jobs.

This is growth for the farmers; agricultural productivity will benefit a great number of our people,” he stressed”.

With a bigger budget this year, the DA said it would vigorously pursue initiatives that will ensure sufficiency in major staples by 2013 that include rice, white corn, cassava, and other basic commodities.

In his 2011 year-end report, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said a big chunk of the  DA’s 2012 budget of P61.73 billion will be spent to implement the Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP), which is the centerpiece program of the Aquino administration.

The program intends to frontload investments, particularly on infrastructure such as irrigation, farm-to-market roads, and postharvest facilities, Alcala said.

With an allocation of P24.5 billion for 2012 for irrigation, Secretary Alcala said the DA will construct new irrigation systems, and restore and rehabilitate existing ones that service a total of 224,850 hectares of farm lands nationwide.

For postharvest and other infrastructures, the DA has alloted P11.28 billion. This will be spent to construct drying, storage, and processing facilities, storage and milling equipment, including dairy equipment and machineries.

The DA said it would also construct major agri-fishery trading centers in many areas throughout the country. (PCOO)

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