Sen. Pangilinan wants compulsory insurance for rice farmers

MANILA — Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Thursday sought compulsory insurance for all farmers of the Filipinos’ staple food, palay (unhusked rice), to cushion them from the effects of typhoons.

Under Senate Bill 1171, or the Expanded Crop Insurance Bill, the National Food Authority will “secure the crop insurance for them, pay the insurance premium, and become at least 50 percent beneficiary of the insurance proceeds or claim” for farmers who are not financially capable, Pangilinan said.

The chair of the Senate committee on food and agriculture noted that farmers find themselves in a difficult situation during the typhoon season.

“We should help our farmers ensure that their sacrifices are not for naught, especially during typhoon season,” he said.

The measure states that crop insurance will be compulsory for those with loans for palay under a supervised credit program and optional for self-financed farmers, provided they agree to place themselves under the supervision of agricultural production technicians.

It also seeks to ensure food security, alleviate the financial burden of farmers during calamities, and help banks in their lending capabilities.

Pangilinan meanwhile noted that while agriculture remains the backbone of the Philippine economy, poverty incidence among farmers is 40.7 percent.

In 2014, agriculture accounted for 11.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and 30.5 percent, or 11.8 million people, of total employment. About two-thirds of the population are directly or indirectly involved in agriculture.

Citing the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp., Pangilinan said only three percent or PHP333.93 million of almost PHP10 billion worth of crops, mostly palay, are insured in 30 provinces. Azer Parrocha/