By Vanne Elaine P. Terrazola
Senator Cynthia Villar on Friday blocked the approval of the P10.3-billion proposed budget of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for next year, questioning the agency’s move to allot only a small portion of the allocation to providing farm equipment for farmers.
Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, pushed DAR to allocate more for the provision of farm machine and equipment.
“The barriers of farmers toward stability and competitiveness is mechanization so we have to mechanize both in the aspect of producing the product and in processing,” she said, citing it was found by a study.
During the deliberation of the Senate Finance Sub-committee on its 2018 proposed budget, a dismayed Villar grilled DAR officials after learning that they will spend a small chunk of the P10.3 billion for training farmers.
According to the senator, the DAR will only allot some 20 percent of its allocation for purchasing farm equipment.
“Mechanization should be very important… Hindi ang mga training lang… Kung hindi niyo bibigyan ng equipment paano magme-mechanize? (It’s not just training. If you don’t give them equipment, how can you mechanize them?),” she said.
“For example 300 million, 50 million ang equipment, tapos 250 million yun ang training that’s not normal. I mean dapat 250 million ang equipment, 50 million ang training! Baliktad di ba?” she added.
Villar also questioned the DAR for allocating “half of its budget” for its personal services.