Press Release
January 25, 2010


With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, Senator Edgardo J. Angara said government should make rural poverty alleviation a top priority.

"Rural poverty poses a critical threat to achieving our target of reducing poverty by half by the year 2015. The dismal performance of the agriculture sector remains the primary cause of the high incidence of rural poverty in the country," Angara said.

Citing a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that the number of poor Filipinos has been increasing despite relatively steady economic growth in recent years, Angara stressed the need to boost our agricultural productivity as it will generate more employment in the countryside.

A former secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Angara pointed out that at least 5 million Filipinos in the rural sector are either unemployed or underemployed largely due to "the underutilization of agricultural lands in the country.

With this, Angara reiterated his call to enact the proposed Rural Employment Generation Act which seeks to develop idle and underutilized agricultural lands to generate high-quality produce and employment for rural communities.

Under this bill, about a million hectares of unused lands will be converted into farms of hybrid corn, cassava and high-value commercial crops (HVCCs) in a period of two years.

"It is with great hopes that this Act will create one million rural jobs with annual farm incomes of at least P25,000 hectare," said Angara, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

The Program is likewise expected to generate rural employment valued at P10.354 billion and private sector investments of P10.605 billion.

"Not only are we maximizing the richness of our resources for healthy consumption; we are also creating jobs for millions of Filipinos in the provinces to keep them self-subsisting so they can build better lives. The core objective of this bill is to drastically reduce rural poverty," he said.

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