By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said Monday the Department of Agriculture now has the framework to effectively raise the incomes of farmers and fisherfolk following the signing of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Sagip Saka Act.
“We have passed the law, and now that Agriculture Secretary William Dar signed the IRR, we can now focus on increasing farmers’ and fisherfolk’s incomes by developing and promoting their enterprises and directly linking them to private and government consumers,” he said.
Pangilinan is the author and proponent of the Sagip Saka Act.
He said the implementation of the law begins with a number of things, including:
– Creation of the Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Council that includes representatives from DA and the Departments of Trade and Industry (at least undersecretary), Interior and Local Government, and Finance, the Cooperative Development Authority, farmers’ and fisherfolk’s organizations, and agriculture/food/restaurant/business sector;
– Establishment of Sagip Saka desks at the Office of the Secretary and in regional field offices;
– Creation of the National Sagip Saka Program Steering Committee that includes representatives from various DA units,
– Having the DA’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) serve as secretariat and coordinator/facilitator with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
– Inclusion of activities and funding support for Sagip Saka in DA’s annual plan and budget proposal.
- Information systems:
– Listing of agricultural and fishery products that national and government agencies require for their various programs (eg, feeding);
– A roster of private companies who are willing to buy from food producers, donate equipment, and transfer technology.
– Registry of farmers’ and fisherfolk’s organizations.
- Other processes:
– Reorientation of the local agriculture and fishery councils toward enterprise development;
– Exemption of donations from donor’s tax, as well as of enterprises registered as barangay micro-business enterprises from income tax;
– Preferential rates and special window to accredited farmers and fisherfolk enterprises.
‘’Poverty has always been the problem. We need to start lifting the living standard of those who feed us. Because if the farmers and the fisherfolk are OK, the entire Philippines would be OK,” according to Pangilinan, former food security secretary during the Noynoy Aquino presidency.