Press Release
October 23, 2009


With the recent demise of P6.5 Billion worth of agricultural crops and facilities from the recent typhoon tragedies, Sen. Edgardo J. Angara reiterated his calls to enact Senate Bill 883 (Rural Employment Generation Act) to develop underutilized agricultural lands and generate high-quality produce and employment for rural communities.

"Five million Filipinos in the rural sector are either unemployed or underemployed, which is due to the underutilization of agricultural lands in the country. That was before the typhoons and floods ravaged especially Laguna, Pangasinan and nearby provinces. Now we are faced not only with the dilemma to optimize our farms but also to rehabilitate them," lamented Angara, former Agriculture Secretary.

Many farmlands and villages in said area are estimated to be enduring floodwaters until at least December or longer. Angara stressed the importance of taking serious, urgent steps to help farmers recover from the losses of the typhoons.

The bill seeks to convert a million hectares of unused lands into farms of hybrid corn, cassava and high-value commercial crops (HVCCs) in a period of two years. It will integrate existing crop areas with idle prime lands into clusters of mechanized and irrigated farms, adopt modern crop production technologies, enhance farmers' access to credit for their purchases and capital, provide training for farmers on innovations in post-harvest mechanization and processing and promote local capacity-building.

A quality standard system will also be implemented on feed grain, vegetables, fibers, fruits and industrial crops to ensure their quality for consumption as well as better and competitive prices in the domestic market. Recently local farm produce have taken a slump in the market due to imported goods from neighboring Asian countries. "This bill will boost our capability to produce high-quality crops," Angara asserted.

"For the rest of the country not adversely affected by Ondoy and Pepeng, this should be a good start. Not only do we maximize the richness of our resources for healthy consumption--especially fruits and vegetables for our children's nutritional needs; we also create jobs for millions in the provinces and keep them self-subsisting so they can build better lives. The core objective of this bill is to drastically reduce rural poverty," Angara expressed optimism.

With this bill, Angara reaffirms his commitment to improving the lives of millions of Filipinos through such programs that are within reach by his intended beneficiaries. As Agriculture Secretary, Angara implemented the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) that improved food production programs and support services and led to higher harvest levels of rice, underscoring the drive to attain self-sufficiency.

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