Group tells gov’t to cover wet season crops with insurance
MANILA, Philippines — A non-government organization on Wednesday asked the government to cover the wet season crops with crop insurance, citing threats to incomes of farmers, and the need for the steady production of food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rice Watch Action Network (R1) made this call after it received reports from farmers in Sorsogon and Leyte lamenting the lack of insurance subsidy in the said provinces.
“With risks to health and production higher, as farmer incomes are threatened, while at the same time COVID-19 needs steady production of food for the people in quarantine, the Rice Watch Action Network demands government to cover wet season crops with crop insurance,” R1, an NGO working with farmers across the country, said in a statement.
Such reports of limited coverage must be clarified by the Department of Agriculture, according to R1 executive director Hazel Tanchuling.
Tanchuling said continuing efficient insurance coverage for farmers, particularly rice farmers, and their agricultural livelihoods protects billions of government investments, especially the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund and the additional Rice Resiliency Fund.
“It would be a pity to see these billions of investments wiped-out and unprotected from climate risks such as tropical cyclones,” she said.
Tanchuling noted that the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation was also allotted P3.5 billion in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2020 to provide financial risk protection for agricultural producers.
“The GAA states that this fund shall be used for the full insurance premiums of subsistence farmers and fisherfolks to cover crops, livestock, fisheries and non-crop agricultural assets. Whatever happened to this budget,” she added.
R1 called on the DA to “act on the side of caution against the risks faced by farmers, lest, such reports on limiting or suspending insurance coverage add to the difficulties of farmers nationwide.”
It also asked the government to prioritize the utilization of the national budget for insurance coverage to benefit the most vulnerable farmers especially during the coronavirus crisis.
The NGO said this will mitigate the possible impacts of another disaster that could affect farms and fields and harm local food producers.
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