Senator Cynthia Villar has filed a bill that will help small farmers to quickly recover from the damage brought about by natural calamities, plant diseases and pest infestations.

Senate Bill 140 or the Free Index-Based Agriculture Insurance Act establishes the enabling policy, regulatory, and funding support for a more effective crop insurance program.

“With an average of 20 typhoons a year entering the country and two to four typhoons forecast to enter the country this July, there is an urgent need to further increase the access by our rice, corn and coconut farmers to safety nets against the effects of climate change and extreme weather risks,” Villar said.

The seasoned legislator, who is expected to continue to lead the Committee on Agriculture and Food in the 18th Congress, noted that the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) has too few participants and cannot cover all the farmers in need of their services.

In 2018, PCIC paid a total of P3.397 billion for damages to crops and properties. It also provided insurance cover to some 2.27 million farmers and fisherfolks. Assets covered included mostly rice, corn and high-value crop farms totalling 1.84 million hectares.

“When a farmer gets hit by a calamity, we want him to remain resilient.”

“When a farmer gets hit by a calamity, we want him to remain resilient. We want our farmer to get back within one week to the field to produce, support the country’s food security and not fall into the poverty trap. This target of speedy but transparent payout has been made possible through the adoption of the innovative index-based insurance technologies,” the veteran lawmaker said.

To subsidize the free premiums of farmers under the program, P6 billion shall be set aside from the current year’s unprogrammed Risk Management Fund to potentially cover 2.8 million hectares of rice lands.

“There is a need to involve the private sector and adopt a more relevant strategy.”

“To effectively reach and serve more of the country’s 6 million small-hold farmers who are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, there is a need to involve the private sector and adopt a more relevant strategy and also safeguard the food security of the broader rural population,” the lady senator said.

She also noted that weather index-based crop insurance has become a very popular mode providing risk transfer on the part of millions of farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Weather Index-based Crop Insurance requires strong collaboration among the meteorological agency and/or satellite-based weather monitoring services; agriculture research institutions; insurance service providers; local government units and farmers.

The bill also creates the Climate Risk Mitigation Fund for Small Farmers where any and all unutilized amounts under the program for any given year shall be placed. This fund may be used to further enhance index-based crop insurance in the country.

“It is high time we put in place reforms that will prevent our farmers from losing their source of livelihood every time a typhoon strikes,” Villar said.

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