MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 25 March) – The local government units in Bukidnon’s 20 towns and two cities are willing to shed only 1 to 2 percent from their budget to institutionalize organic agriculture in their areas.
Provincial board member Ranulfo 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 Bukidnon chapter of the League of Municipalities in the Philippines and the members of the Provincial Development Council.
Bukidnon passed an organic agriculture code in November 2012 patterned after Republic Act 10068 or the National Law on Organic Agriculture of 2010.
Pepito said the mayors complained that the 10-percent allotment is “too much” and could “possibly affect the other aspects of local government operations.”
The municipalities, he said, want to commit only one percent of their budget, while the two cities, only two percent.
The provincial board, however, approved last week the reduction of the organic agriculture budget for municipalities and cities to only 1 to 2 percent, respectively.
Engr. Alson Quimba, provincial agriculturist, said that initially, the LGUs agreed to using 1 to 2 percent of their Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE). The LGUs’ MOOEs are roughly one-third of their total budgets.
“This is acceptable as long as we don’t have difficulty with the local government executives,” said Quimba, noting that at least they have now started budgetting for organic agriculture even though it much lower than originally planned. “This is better than zero,” he added.
Pepito said the LGUs also have their own budget for agriculture. The provincial government, he added, can complement the local budget for agriculture.
He 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.
The code sets 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. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)