As climate change and more frequent disasters result in massive agricultural losses, a bill in the Philippine Senate proposes mandatory crop insurance for rice and other essential produce.
Senator Francis Pangilinan has filed a bill which seeks to expand on the Crop Insurance Act by requiring crop insurance for all farmers, the Philippine Star reported. Current regulations require crop insurance only from farmers who take out production loans.
“Our rice farmers become more heavily indebted and impoverished after every disaster. A way to save them is for them to have crop insurance,” Pangilinan said.
According to the bill, which also seeks to revise the charter of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC), participation in the insurance for rice and other crops essential for food security will be made compulsory for all farmers. Those who are financially incapable of paying the premium shall receive assistance from the National Food Authority (NFA).
In 2018, the PCIC paid out PHP3.4 billion (US$65 million) in claims for damage to crops and properties in the farming and fishing industries.
Pangilinan said that the agriculture sector has consistently registered the highest incidence of poverty since 2006. Despite the agriculture sector generating around 25% of total jobs, farmers are some of the poorest people in the country.
Data from Family Income and Expenditure and Labor Force surveys show that farmers had the highest poverty incidence in 2015 at 34.3%.