June 19, 2018, 11:34 pm
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DA: Redirect 4Ps fund to farm livelihood

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is set to file a formal proposal in the next Cabinet meeting to restructure the use of funds in the PantawidPamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). 

Piñolis proposing to change the dole out nature of 4Psso that it becomes a loan package that indigents can use for farm livelihood programs.

 “The 4Ps funds can be used for livelihood program for agriculture production instead of a dole out. I mentioned about that several times during our past Cabinet meetings but I have yet to file a formal proposal to use the money as livelihood funds. Instead of a cash dole out, it will become a fund assistance,” Piñol told reporters during the Philippine Agriculture Trade and Investment Forum in Manila.

 At present, he said as much as P70 billion is allotted annually to 4Ps for dole out but with limited results.

 “I will come up with a memorandum to be submitted on the next Cabinet meeting. We are not taking the 4Ps budget from the Department of Social Welfare and Development but we are only suggesting that instead of dole out, we can change the strategy by granting beneficiaries with funds to create, for example, a backyard vegetable and poultry farms,” he added.

 Piñol said the proposal is in line with his plans to also scrap any form of subsidy in the Department of Agriculture (DA) by 2021 as it eats up as much as P30 billion from the agency’s budget annually.

 He said the subsidy funds in the DA will be used in the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) program. This will allow farmers and fisherfolks to fund projects and purchase products of their own choice compared to the subsidy which forces them to use whatever is provided by the government.

 “Right now, PLEA has a 96 percent repayment rate and even if I recover only 80 percent from that program, we will still save a lot more than giving subsidies,” noted Piñol.

 Under the PLEA program, farmers and fishermen will be identified and accredited through satellite geo-tagging to establish their exact farm or fishing grounds location to prevent unqualified applicants from abusing the program.

 One of its features is the immediate release of the borrowed amount within five days upon application. It requires loan applicants to use modern technology in their agricultural activities, like the use of certified seeds and government endorsed planting materials to ensure greater productivity.

 The program allows a maximum amount of P25,000 per household, with its proposed funding included in the tier 2 budget of DA. Commodities financed under the PLEA are also covered with crop insurance by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp.
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