Crop insurance bill passage sought

With the most recent storm “Florita” damaging millions worth of crops, a partylist solon called on Congress leadership to start deliberations soon on a measure that would compensate farmers of essential crops for losses due to natural calamities.

AGRI Partylist Representative Wilbert Lee said that he has already filed House Bill 1298, or the Essential Crop Insurance Act of 2022, earlier this month that seeks to make insurance for essential crops mandatory.

“Florita” is another harsh reminder of the urgency of implementing measures that would indemnify our farmers for disaster-related losses and help ensure that our food supply remains stable,” Lee said.

To recall, the Department of Agriculture reported that severe tropical storm “Florita” — which hit northern Luzon this past week — destroyed crops valued at P19.1 million and impaired the livelihood of 1,286 farmers.

Rice and corn farmers had been the most heavily hit, with 699 metric tons of rice and 430 metric tons of corn damaged.

With the destruction amid rising costs of food and farm inputs, Lee lamented that farmers would once again find it difficult to recover unless the government intervenes.

“We have to institutionalize a proper insurance mechanism for our farmers and fisherfolk. It is not fair that every time there is a disaster, they will be in debt just to have a production that they cannot benefit from,” Lee said.

The proposed measure provides a legal basis for the National Food Authority to shoulder the premium for indigent farmers subject to equitable shares in insurance proceeds by amending Section 4 of Presidential Decree 1467, as amended by Republic Act 8175, or the “Revised Charter of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation Act of 1995.”

Insurance proceeds for premiums covered by the NFA will be split, with the agency getting at least 50 percent of payouts. Essential crops include rice, corn, cassava, coconut, sugarcane and vegetables.

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