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AGRI PARTY-LIST URGES SENATE TO PASS EXPANDED INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR FARMERS, FISHERFOLK

Two months into the rainy season and with Congress resuming session next week, a party-list representing the agriculture sector urged the Senate to pass its counterpart bill expanding insurance coverage for farmers and fisherfolk––a measure that if passed will benefit 5.5 million small-hold farms and 1.7 million fishermen who are most vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather.

Earlier this year, the Lower House approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 6923, or “An Act Strengthening the PCIC,” repealing Presidential Decree 1467, which created the government-owned and controlled corporation attached to the Department of Agriculture.

The bill seeks to allot five to ten billion pesos crop insurance to guarantee immediate assistance of farmers affected by calamities despite the absence of the so-called total wipe-out situation.

AGRI Party-list secretary general Benjie Martinez said that the damage to be expected from the rainy season and the effects of climate change underline the urgency of passing a law that helps those engaged in agriculture.

The damage to be expected from the rainy season and the effects of climate change underline the urgency of passing a law that helps those engaged in agriculture.

The party-list’s representatives are among the principal authors of HB No. 6923. The bill also aims to overhaul the crop insurance system by mandating the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. and encouraging private insurance companies to provide index-based direct insurance and re-insurance policies.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) defines index-based direct insurance as insurance payouts that “are pegged to easily measured environmental conditions, or an ‘index’ that is closely related to agricultural production losses.” According to the research arm, possible indices include rainfall, yields, or vegetation levels measured by satellites.

It further adds that in the event an index exceeds a certain threshold, farmers receive a fast, efficient payout, in some cases delivered via mobile phones.

HB 6923 also seeks to expand the types of crops that can be insured by the PCIC. Aside from rice, corn, high value commercial crops, livestock, aquaculture and fishery, agroforestry and forest plantations would also be covered by crop insurance. The bill also provides for life and accident insurance for farmers and fishermen and their dependents.

It likewise mandates the PCIC to insure properties and facilities of the government used in agri-fishery projects, including reinsurance coverage to agri-fishery-forestry properties underwritten by private and government insurance companies.

“We can never stress enough the importance of providing support services to help our farmers and fisherfolk, who belong to the poorest sectors of Filipino society,” Martinez said.

We can never stress enough the importance of providing support services to help our farmers and fisherfolk, who belong to the poorest sectors of Filipino society.

“This administration has already kickstarted programs that are aimed at lifting the agriculture sector and those working in it, with the passage of the free tuition and free irrigation laws. I hope we ride on this momentum by addressing one of the perennial issues that hound our farmers and fisherfolk.”

 

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