Press Release
April 28, 2011

Legarda Wants Boost in Agri Extension System to Abate Poverty

Alarmed with reports that about 4.12 million Filipinos may slide into poverty this year, Senator Loren Legarda today pushed for the strengthening of the national agriculture and fisheries extension system.

According to the report of the Asian Development Bank, 1.37 million Filipinos are likely to sink into poverty with a 10-percent increase in food prices this year, 2.27 million with a 20-percent increase, and 4.12 million with a 30-percent food price hike.

Legarda explained that strengthening agriculture and fisheries extension would enhance the food production capability of individuals and organizations involved in these two sectors, thereby improving food stability and decreasing poverty rate in the country.

"There is a need to undertake Agricultural Extension in order to bolster this deteriorating sector. This system will assist farm people, through educational procedures and sharing best agricultural practices, in improving farming methods and techniques, increasing production efficiency and income, and lifting social and educational standards," she pointed out.

"We have to do this immediately to stabilize food production and prevent the rise in poverty incidence," she added.

Legarda's proposal is incorporated in a measure she filed, Senate Bill 1337, which provides for the creation of the Philippines Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Agency (PAFEA) that will serve as the national apex organization to unify all agriculture and fisheries extension system and ensure maintenance of the high standards of extension programs.

Under this bill, the PAFEA, which shall replace the Agricultural Training Institute, will provide training and scholarship programs, to be funded by the national government, for agricultural extension workers.

A rewards and incentives system will also be developed by the PAFEA to encourage agricultural extension workers to stay in the service, promote their productivity and reward them for extraordinary performance.

Furthermore, the farmer-to-farmer approach will be institutionalized. This would allow farmers and fishermen to share knowledge and skills and exchange successful experiences to one another to continuously improve productivity and income of their enterprises.

"As a crucial sector that influences the country's continued economic development, there is a pressing need to uplift our agricultural and fisheries sector. Agriculture and Fisheries extension is central to the growth and development of this sector, which remains the backbone of our economy," Legarda concluded.

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