Acknowledging that the smuggling of vegetables mostly from China has steadily risen, the Department of Agriculture is seeking an intelligence fund for its 2022 budget to fight smuggling, which senators called economic sabotage.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar made the pitch at a Senate Finance sub-committee hearing Friday where he was also asked to make sure his agency has a clear plan for dealing with the spike in fertilizer prices that are compounding the troubles of farmers.
The Secretary told the Senate panel they need to be provided with supplemental funding for intelligence fund to allow the DA to conduct better surveillance of those sneaking in agricultural products from abroad.
He assured senators that the operations of the DA and the Bureau of customs against vegetable smuggling are relentless and they have thus far discovered at least three warehouses used by smugglers with most of the products coming from China.
Senators told Dar the culprits must be prosecuted for economic sabotage.
At the same hearing, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri told Agriculture officials to lay down a clear plan on dealing with the prices of fertilizer, which has now risen to P1,500-P1,900 from just P800-900 a kilo.
Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan, in turn pledged to submit their requested budget before the upcoming plenary debates on the national budget bill.
Image courtesy of Nonie Reyes