Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said that it is possible to uplift the lives of small farmers by addressing the nutritional needs of Filipino children.
Legarda cited the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) nutrition program where small farmers plant the requirements for feeding programs. It is a convergence program of the OVP with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“I believe in the advocacy of improving the nutritional needs of our children. I am glad that the OVP has this program and it should be supported by the whole bureaucracy,” said the veteran legislator.
According to Vice President Leni Robredo, who presented the program during the Senate hearing for the proposed 2018 budget of the OVP, the program is successful in increasing the income of very small farmers. She said that in her district in Naga, the average income of small farmers increased from 1,800 pesos a month to 6,000-8,000 pesos a month.
In this program, the small farmers provide the nutritional needs of schoolchildren by planting what is required by the DSWD as advised by the National Nutrition Council.
“This is a good example of inclusive growth – the government addresses the needs of one sector, which is our schoolchildren, through the support of another sector, which is our small farmers, who also benefit through improved income. I hope this could be replicated in all parts of the country, especially in areas with high malnutrition incidence,” said the seasoned lawmaker.
The lady senator added that local government units (LGUs) with exemplary nutrition program should be made models for other LGUs to replicate.
The OVP said that the top five areas with high incidence of malnutrition are Biliran, Occidental Mindoro, Northern Samar, Catanduanes and Abra. Meanwhile, the LGUs of Malabon City and Quezon Province have very good nutrition programs, which are being showcased by the OVP.
Legarda urged the OVP to strengthen collaboration with other government agencies to further boost its anti-poverty programs. She also requested for the OVP’s one-year report on the needs of various communities it has visited.
“We have so much unutilized funds which could be used to address the concerns of poor, far-flung areas. The inputs from the OVP would be very helpful in reminding the concerned government agency of the needs of those communities,” she concluded.