MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In a bid to improve the agriculture and fisheries sector, the Philippine government passed a law institutionalizing a Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11321 or the Sagip Saka Act on April 17. The law was made available to the public on Monday, May 27.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, the law's principal author and principal sponsor in the Senate, welcomed the signing as a "victory for farmers and fishermen."
The program is intended to help farmers and fisherfolk make a decent living out of agriculture and fisheries.
To do this, the program will provide assistance like agricultural extension services; skills development; provision of production inputs, equipment, and facilities; and infrastructure for production and post-production activities.
It should also help improve farmers' and fisherfolk's access to credit grants, crop insurance, and new technologies. Another form of assistance is helping their trade grow by improving their access to markets. (READ: Farmers' preferences to be considered in agriculture procurement)
The program covers the following:
Gov't to buy directly from farmers, fishermen
As a further boon to farmers and fisherfolk, the law orders all government entities to directly purchase agricultural and fisheries products from local farmer and fisherfolk enterprises.
"For example, the government feeding programs under the nutrition and health programs should buy rice, vegetables, fruits, chickens, and other agricultural products directly from farmers and fisherfolk. We are taking out the middlemen who earn the most out of the toil of farmers and fishermen," said Pangilinan in Filipino.
The measure exempts both national government agencies and local governments from the Procurement Law when it purchases agricultural products directly from accredited farmers coops and organizations.
It also imposes a slew of tax incentives and exemptions to encourage assistance for farmers and fisherfolk.
These are the following:
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.