IN the Philippines, there’s no denying that 40 percent of the 11.8 million farmers and fishermen live below the so-called poverty line.
And note that poverty incidence is highest in the country’s agriculture sector, which employs about a third of the population.
Thus, Senator Cynthia A. Villar wants low-income farmers and fishermen included in the government’s highly-successful Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
Likewise, Villar, wife of ex-Senate President Manuel Villar, urged the government to allow farmers to produce the rice requirement for the 4.5 million household-beneficiaries of 4Ps.
“If we can reduce the number of poor people in agriculture, then we can reduce poverty in the Philippines, which remains an agricultural country,” according to the lady senator.
It will be recalled that during last year’s deliberation of the 2017 P3.35-trillion national budget, Senator Villar defended the Department of Agriculture’s proposed budget.
“We have high expectations that the budget of DA will address the barriers that hinder Filipino farmers and fishermen from being more competitive and to increase their income,” she added.
Truth is, Filipino farmers have to contend with tougher competition, with the reintegration to the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 and climate change issues.
Hopefully, however, the 2017 budget of the DA will increase competitiveness of farmers and fishers by reducing production cost.
In the view of many, by including the farmers and fishermen in the national government’s 4Ps, the authorities are on track in helping these beleaguered Filipinos.