Bukidnon LGUs reject 10-percent organic agri budget

Bukidnon News.Net official Logo for site2MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/20 March) The local government units in Bukidnon’s 20 towns and two cities are willing to shed only 1 percent for towns and 2 percent for cities from their budget to institutionalize organic agriculture in their areas, board member Ranulfo Pepito said Wednesday.

Pepito, chair of the committee on agriculture at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, said the provincial government’s policy of 10 percent mandatory budget for organic agriculture was met with opposition by the League of Municipalities in the Philippines-Bukidnon chapter and
members of the Provincial Development Council.

Bukidnon passed an organic agriculture code in 2011 patterned after RA 100068 or the National Law on Organic Agriculture of 2010. Pepito said they adopted the 10 percent from the national law.

He said the mayors complained that the 10 percent mandatory allotment is “too much” and could “possibly affect the other aspects of local government operations.

The provincial board approved at the committee level in a hearing on March 18 the proposed amendment of the ordinance cutting the mandatory budget.

Pepito clarified that the Provincial Agriculture Office even agreed that the 1 or 2 percent will be taken not from the total budget but from the local government’s allotment for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE).

“This is acceptable as long as we don’t have difficulty with the local government executives,” Engr. Alson Quimba, provincial agriculturist, told this reporter Monday.

Pepito quoted Quimba as saying the municipal agriculture officers cited their difficulty convincing the mayors about the 10 percent.

“So they are ok with the 1 percent from MOOE as long as its there,” he quoted Quimba as saying.

Pepito said the LGUs also have their own budget for agriculture. The provincial government, he added, can also complement the local budget for agriculture.

Pepito said they have looked at implementing a progressive percent share over the years.

Bukidnon started implementing the law on organic agriculture this year with an information drive. Quimba said they are starting with developing demonstration farms.

Quimba also said they will form local committees on organic agriculture at the provincial, city and municipal levels as part of the ground work for the implementation of Republic Act 10068.

“This is one of our major targets for 2013,” he said in January, although he pointed out that the provincial and municipal agriculture offices have already designated focal persons.

The code set an annual allocation of P5 million budget for organic agriculture in Bukidnon. For this year, however, only P3 million was allocated, Pepito said. Quimba said P2 million from the budget would be spent on the education component of the program.

Pepito, the proponent of the code said the ordinance is the first in Northern Mindanao and will protect Bukidnon’s “advantage in agriculture.”

“(It is) to protect and advance the right of the small and disadvantaged farmers to food security, sustainable livelihood and social equity in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature,” Pepito, chair of the board committee on agriculture, added in his sponsorship note for the code.

Section 14 of RA10068 defines the composition of local technical committees at the provincial, city and municipal levels. Their task is to implement activities under National Organic Agriculture Program in coordination with the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards (BAFPS). (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)