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El Niño mitigation plan should include agri insurance —Villanueva

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva is urging the government to include the agricultural insurance woes of farmers in its plans to mitigate the expected impact of the El Niño phenomenon in the country.

The lawmaker expressed concern over the low number of farmers availing themselves of agricultural insurance as he emphasized the need for the country to be prepared for the impacts of extreme natural events.

He also noted that 22.2 percent or 10.5 million employed Filipinos depend on agriculture as a source of income, citing the Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority last January 2023.

“Almost one-fourth of our labor force are in the agriculture sector and if we don’t take the necessary measures to protect it, we will see a severe decline in employment which will in turn lead to low agricultural production, endangering the livelihood of millions of Filipinos in the sector and also our country's food security” Villanueva said.

Villanueva earlier filed proposed Senate Resolution 549 which seeks to inquire on the state of government’s agricultural insurance program, considering the impact of unfortunate natural occurences on agriculture.

Villanueva emphasized the need to put in place sufficient measures to protect Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.

“The government must ensure the accessibility, availability and sufficiency of safety nets to protect the livelihood of Filipinos employed in agriculture and the food security of the entire country,” said the lawmaker.

The El Niño phenomenon is characterized by the abnormal warming of sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean and below-normal rainfall.

State weather bureau PAGASA recently stated that there is a 41% chance the El Niño phenomenon that is expected to be experienced in the country will reach a "strong" level by November to January.

Last year, Senator JV Ejercito filed a  bill seeking to automatically place all farmers with eight hectares of farmland and below under the government's crop insurance program.

In filing Senate Bill 390, Ejercito said the measure seeks to develop a crop insurance program that will ensure that small farmers and crops are protected from the negative impacts of natural and other disasters. —VAL, GMA Integrated News