Press Release
March 20, 2010


There is a need for the government to mobilize its resources to maximize the production capability of the agriculture and fishery sector in order to hasten countryside development and reduce the country's poverty incidence particularly in the rural areas, according to NP-NPC-LDP vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda.

"We have to alleviate rural poverty as the rural poor ratio is still two thirds of the country's poor. And to achieve this goal, the government must ensure the rational allocation of resources to the local governments to enable local leaders to do their part efficiently particularly in providing technical assistance, production support and social services to farmers, fisherfolk and their families in their locality," Legarda said.

Legarda issued the statement in reaction to an Asian Development Bank's report last year which states that "the economy's strong performance in the last four years has not translated into poverty reduction. Between 2003 and 2006, poverty incidence increased from 30.0 percent to 32.9 percent despite the average GDP growth of 5.4 percent. The Gini coefficient remains high at 0.45. Both urban and rural poverty increased on average and only 4 of 17 regions recorded an improvement in the poverty headcount. Falling real incomes of families and compression of public spending contributed to the rise in poverty."

"The challenge of rural development lies heavily on the leadership of local officials - from Governors down to the officials in the barangay levels," said Legarda, chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture and food.

"While I commend the Governors and Mayors and other local officials who have done their part to uplift the living condition of their constituents, I am encouraging them and those who would be elected to local posts this coming elections, to be development- oriented, imaginative and creative," the lady senator said.

"I advise you to coordinate with local offices of the various national government agencies and find out what budget and programs of these agencies could be utilized and implemented in your locality," Legarda said.

"For example, you can use Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) - managed institutions and funds for agriculture and fisheries in equipping farm and fish-farm households with non-farm skills such as repair and maintenance of vehicles, farm machineries, electricity, modern carpentry, furniture making, training in production of agri-tourism goods and services," she said.

"Farm and fishing communities need these skills as an alternative source of livelihood in times of disasters such as typhoons, flooding and other calamities that damage croplands such as the drought which we are experiencing now," she elaborated.

"LGUs could also tap State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) for the use of their extension programs, particularly those with academic programs related to creative industries, in teaching both lowland and upland farmers and fisherfolks set up simple agri-tourism business such as small eateries and cafes near the seashores, mountains, and in the middle of rice fields and in creative packaging of food and non-farm products," the lady senator said.

"The Department of Environment and Natural Resources could also provide local governments with livelihood creating-activities in agro-forestry. The LGUs could tap religious organizations, alumni associations, youth organizations or any group who are interested and are looking for mountains to adopt for reforestation," Legarda said.

"LGUs could also access the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) for the use of small borrowers particularly in the production of livestock with limited supply such as hogs, cattle and goats," she added.

According to Legarda, another important factor that will contribute to the reduction of poverty in the countryside is the full support of the national government in providing the subsidized farm inputs and infrastructures necessary in farm activities such as farm-to-market roads, farm machineries and post-harvest facilities.

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