The National Food Authority (NFA) will get more funds for its rice procurement program to ensure adequate supply of the cereal next year, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The DBM said the national budget allocated around P12 billion for the NFA’s Buffer Stocking Program in 2023, nearly doubled from the P7 billion allocation this year.
Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the move was to ensure sufficient rice supply in the country, “in times of global food crisis, unforeseen emergencies, and calamities.”
“By increasing the budgetary allocation for the Buffer Stocking Program, we are stressing the importance of ensuring food affordability, especially rice, which is a staple food for Filipinos. This is also our strategic plan for food security in times of crisis since our country is prone to natural calamities,” Pangandaman said in a statement.
Under the proposed 2023 General Appropriations Act, the provision for buffer stock capacity has increased from nine days to 15 days.
The proposed 2023 budget for the program was higher than this year’s budget to enable the government to procure 631,579 metric of palay from local farmers.
The DBM said the increased budget allocation for the program was attuned to the Marcos administration’s eight-point socioeconomic agenda, with food security as one of the top priorities.
It also noted that around P0.67 billion will also be allotted for the purchase of high-quality rice and corn seeds for seed buffer stocking under the Department of Agriculture (DA).
“This is to ensure enough supply of seeds to be used during calamities and emergencies affecting rice and corn production,” the agency said.
For fiscal year 2023, the Marcos administration has allotted a total of P184.1 billion for the agriculture sector to ensure food security and agricultural productivity.
The proposed 2023 budget earmarked for the agricultural industry is 39.2 percent higher than the budget allocated this year.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has said agriculture is “both a top concern and a top priority” of his administration, as it remains “one of the main drivers of our push for growth and employment.”
Marcos, who also serves as Agriculture Secretary, met with his economic team and NFA officials on Aug. 23 to discuss steps to ensure the adequate supply of rice in the country.