AS SENATE deliberations on the 2013 national budget near, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairman Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said that the government should focus on farmers and fisherfolk in the interest of food security.
"There is an urgent need to include in the national budget crop insurance for our farmers, and also insurance for our fisherfolk. Every year we are ravaged by typhoons and the subsequent floods and destruction that go with them,” he said.
The senator added that the time is ripe “to come up with a comprehensive insurance coverage plan for our crops, and even for our farmers and fishermen themselves. The government will save more in the long run as it secures the livelihood of our agricultural communities."
Pangilinan said that it would be nearly impossible to achieve food security and food self-sufficiency if the country's farmers and fisherfolk remain impoverished.
Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad said the Department of Agriculture will receive P73.6 billion under the proposed 2013 Empowerment Budget, 19.9 percent higher than the allocation for this year.
The government's Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation guarantees each farmer a maximum of P17,680 per hectare in insurance claims if his crop is totally damaged by pests, plant disease or natural calamities. In some special cases, the provincial government subsidizes the entire crop insurance premium.
For the past two years, the corporation was able to double the number of farmers covered by crop insurance despite budgetary constraints.
Almost 60 percent of the premium for crop insurance is subsidized by the PCIC to make the program more affordable to farmers.
"We should work hard toward giving our farmers and fisherfolk the same prosperity that farmers in countries like Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, and China are now starting to enjoy," said PCIC president Jovy Bernabe.
One of the provinces that recently enrolled in the program was Negros Occidental for the immediate implementation of the P180-million Negros First Universal Crop Insurance Program, which is expected to benefit 10,000 rice farmers.
Under the program, the provincial government will shoulder 60 percent or P500 of the P840 insurance premium per hectare per cropping. The balance of P340 is paid by the farmer. (GMA News)