Press Release
January 29, 2009

Reverse migration to provinces to ease poverty -- Loren

Senator Loren Legarda said today that an all-out government support to agriculture in the countryside will not only help the country ensure its food security, but can also decongest urban centers and reduce criminality in cities.

"Once our farmers and fisher folks get much-needed support from government, we may see reverse migration from the cities to the provinces," said Loren, chair of the agriculture and health committees of the Senate.

"In the past, people flocked to the cities and other highly urbanized centers thinking there are jobs to be had there. Sadly, some were forced to a life of crime just to survive," she added.

But if the government will really strive to boost agricultural and economic activities in the provinces, Loren said those who had left the provinces will be enticed to return.

"This is because people go where livelihood opportunities are. A return to the countryside would decongest urban centers, while providing the much-needed labor force for the agricultural sector," she explained.

The senator said that most people who migrate to urban centers have relatives in the provinces, who can take them back as a boost in agricultural activities will require extra hands to till the land.

Loren said she would not be surprised to find out that some squatters in cities may in fact own farm lands which they have left in the provinces.

Still, the lawmaker stressed that it would take more than just agricultural support to entice urban dwellers to go back to the provinces.

"The government must unveil a complete package, which means schools, health centers and readily available social services in far-flung villages," she said.

Those migrating back to the provinces must also be given reintegration support by the government to tide them over during the transition period.

"Support to farmers include credit access, quality seeds, fertilizers, irrigation and post-harvest facilities," Loren said.

"Fisher folks, on the other hand, would benefit from getting support in the form of drying facilities, as well as ensuring a ready market for their catch."

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