‘Better’ days seen for farmers

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Sen. Cynthia Villar is optimistic that the passage of the rice tariffication and coco levy measures would finally bring progress to farmers and help enhance the country’s food security.

On Thursday, the bicameral conference committee agreed on the reconciled versions of Senate and House bills on rice tariffication and coco levy fund.

Villar stressed that the allotment of P10 billion annually to rice farmers for six years and P5 billion a year for coconut farmers, for the next 25 years from the coco levy fund and P10 billion for the coconut industry, will help uplift the lives of farm workers.

“If we continue to fail with these (legislations), I don’t know how we would succeed. I really hope that we will be successful already because we are trying a relatively different model,” Villar said.

She stressed that the funds allocated for coconut and rice farmers are very specific to safeguard them against “politics.”

“The funds are earmarked specifically where they will go,” said Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

Villar added that there would be an assessment of the measures after six years to determine their effectivity.

“After six years, both measures will be subject to review…if there are mistakes, then we can enact another law. We try another model again until we find solution to their problem,” she explained.

On the rice tariffication bill, Villar was very optimistic that the P10 billion rice competitive enhancement fund would uplift the production of farmers through mechanization, distribution of new breeds of seedlings and other agriculture technology.

The coco levy fund, on the other hand, would provide the much-needed support to coconut farmers through innovation and expansion of their knowledge in farming, particularly in inter-cropping.

“Do you know that the coconut and the rice farmers compose 90 percent of all our farmers in the Philippines? So, these bills are very important for them to get the much-needed government support,” Villar said.

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