By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Sen. Grace Poe on Thursday urged her fellow lawmakers to approve her proposal for insurance coverage for the country’s fisheries, livestock, and poultry sectors to protect farmers and fisherfolk in times of calamity.
Poe pushed for her Senate Bill (SB) No. 866 as she cited the damage wrought on agriculture by the Jan. 12 Taal Volcano eruption.
SB 866 seeks to amend Presidential Decree No. 1647, or the Revised Charter of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation Act of 1995 that mandates the insurance of qualified farmers against losses caused by plant diseases, pest infestations, and natural calamities and provides insurance coverage for palay and agricultural crops, among others.
In pushing for her bill, Poe said the fisheries, livestock, and poultry sectors are major contributors to the economy and food security.
For instance, she said the fisheries sector produced 4.32 million metric tons of fish in 2017, valued at around P243.94 million, while the gross values of livestock and poultry production in 2018 were valued at P75.4 billion and P55.4 billion respectively.
“However, all of the sectors identified above are vulnerable to climate change and severe weather-based calamities,” she pointed out.
Poe said the insurance coverage for farmers “will guarantee that during times of unforeseen events, farmers will not be [left] holding an empty bag.”
“Hindi natin kayang pigilin ang bagyo at iba pang kalamidad. Pero, sa pamamagitan ng crop insurance, mapapagaan natin ang pasanin ng kababayan nating maaapektuhan at matutulungan sila sa pagbangon (We cannot stop typhoons and calamities from happening. But, through crop insurance, we can ease the burden of those affected and help them get back on their feet),” she said in a statement Wednesday.
Under the bill, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), a body attached to the Department of Agriculture, shall be tasked to insure qualified fisherfolk against losses resulting from natural calamities, as well as insure livestock, poultry, and unharvested fisheries stock, without prejudice to the inclusion of other non-crop agricultural assets.
These assets include livestock and poultry pens and cages, inland fishponds, fish cages, fish pens, fishing boats, and other related infrastructures, as the PCIC Board of Directors may determine.
The bill also includes in the proposed crop insurance coverage the cost of production inputs, the value of the fisherfolk’s own labor and those of the members of his household, and the value of the labor of hired workers, as the Board decides to insure.