Press Release
February 1, 2012

Boost Food Self-Sufficiency, Promote Microenterprises
to Beat Hunger and Poverty - Legarda

Senator Loren Legarda today called for the improvement of Filipinos' food self-sufficiency and the promotion of microenterprises to alleviate hunger and poverty for the long-term.

Citing Social Weather Station's yearend survey results, Legarda said that 4.5 million families experienced hunger, while 9.1 million households considered themselves poor in December last year.

"To effectively reduce hunger and poverty, we have to provide our citizens the kind of support that will have long-term effects. In boosting food self-sufficiency, we improve people's lives by ensuring that they are able to fend for their basic needs without having to regularly depend on government assistance," she stressed.

Legarda said the government should encourage citizens to grow vegetable gardens in their backyards or suitable vacant spaces in communities.

The Senator said that the Luntiang Pilipinas, one of her advocacy programs, has established seedlings banks to readily provide seedlings and saplings of indigenous plants and vegetables to the public who wish to establish forest parks and vegetable gardens in their own barangay or community.

Meanwhile, to introduce alternative sources of income, Legarda also called for a more vigorous promotion and implementation of laws on livelihood.

She explained that the Barangay Kabuhayan Act (RA 9509) can be implemented along with the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Act (RA 9501). The former establishes livelihood and skills training centers in the fourth, fifth and sixth class municipalities, while the latter strengthens MSMEs by requiring lending institutions to allocate at least eight percent (8%) of their total loan portfolio to micro and small businesses and providing access to new technologies and entrepreneurship training programs.

"Training programs should be established in barangays to encourage people to engage in self-employment alternatives. We must invest heavily in the countryside stimulating growth of MSMEs that will provide more employment opportunities," said Legarda, who has her own livelihood program focused on introducing various green skills such as newspaper bag weaving, creating slippers and bags from water lilies, and making accessories such as bracelets and rosaries from old magazine strips, among others.

"In alleviating hunger and poverty, we must maximize what we already have. These programs--backyard vegetable gardening, skills and livelihood training initiatives and promotion of microenterprises--would greatly help in providing additional income and food sources to the poor communities, while using only minimal resources," Legarda concluded.

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