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Legarda bats for adequate support for farmers, fisherfolk

By: - Contributor / @inquirerdotnet
01:15 PM January 16, 2022
legarda farmer fisherfolk

FROM THE OFFICE OF LEGARDA

MANILA, Philippines — House Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda stressed that local farmers and fisherfolk need continued backing as the country strives to be self-sufficient and food secure.

“I note that we are the only country in the ASEAN region that is a net importer of food. This is unacceptable, as our country is rich in resources, and we have more than 10 million hardworking small farmers, forest settlers, and fisherfolk,” Legarda said during the AGRI2022 Online Forum launch.

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She cited the agricultural successes of her home province, Antique, as it saw a significant increase in palay production (27.4%) and yield (3.8%) in 2021.

“With the exceptional support of the government: from providing seeds, tools, equipment and market access, self-sufficiency in agriculture can be achieved,” said the former senator.

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The province of Antique boasts as one of the very few provinces to achieve “rice self-sufficient” status, Legarda stated.

“If the government provides adequate support and intervention, small producers will have additional income-generating opportunities while encouraging local food supply,” she said.

Legarda also cited the sector’s need to take advantage scientific research and innovation, especially for climate-resilient technologies.

She noted that during Typhoon Odette, the municipality of Del Carmen, Siargao was miraculously spared from storm surges because it is home to 4,871 hectares of mangroves.

“We need to work with and alongside natural processes. Nature-based solutions, such as planting mangrove greenbelts, have been very effective in preventing further loss and damage. Our farming and fishing communities could benefit from policies and plans that build with nature,” Legarda said.

Regenerative practices

Farmers can also help in preventing water scarcity, she said.

“If we had healthier soils, we can prevent erosion or run-off. For example, if our farmers used the straw from their palay and applied it to their rice fields, the straw is converted to organic matter. They would be close to achieving one (1%) percent organic matter, which translates to about 50,000 gallons of water retained,” Legarda said.

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“We urgently need to move from environmentally exploitative farming to regenerative practices. Presently, our policies are focused on large-scale farming and production for export,” she added.

Legarda has co-authored House Bill 8385 or the Integrated Urban Agriculture Act, which seeks to promote and institutionalize urban agriculture as a sustainable land-use system.

She also co-authored the Rural Farm Schools Act under Republic Act 10618.

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