Farmers’ debt condonation bill to boost production, food security

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

May 26, 2023, 7:31 pm

<p> <em>File Photo from Department of Agriculture</em></p>

 File Photo from Department of Agriculture

MANILA – Speaker Martin Romualdez on Friday said the anticipated signing into law of the bill condoning the debts of agrarian reform beneficiaries totaling PHP57.55 billion would help farmers increase their productivity and attain food security in the country.

In a statement, Romualdez said the measure, which is now awaiting the signature of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. would free 610,054 farmers from debts owed in acquiring agrarian reform lands with a combined area of 1,173,101 hectares.

“When our farmers are freed from the burden of debt, they would be able to invest more in their land and improve their productivity. This can lead to better yields and profits, which can help improve the lives of our farmers and their families,” Romualdez said.

“This relief to hundreds of thousands of agrarian reform beneficiaries gains even more significance now that we are facing the twin challenges of increased prices of farm inputs, particularly fertilizers, and the harmful effects of climate change on the agriculture sector,” he added.

The bill is among the 31 measures the House of Representatives has approved to date, out of the 42 priority measures President Marcos has identified through the Legislative-Executive Advisory Council (LEDAC).

He said the measure would complement the various programs and assistance provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to uplift the lives of farmers.

“We need to provide our farmers all the support we can to promote increased productivity and help us attain food security," he said.

Romualdez vowed that the House will continue to explore more avenues to revitalize the country's agriculture sector.

He noted that when the price of onion surged to over PHP700 a kilo last December, he has called for a congressional investigation to bring prices down for consumers and protect local farmers from exploitation by a cartel that corners supply and manipulates prices.

He likewise urged authorities like the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine Competition Commission and the DA to work together and pursue the leads obtained in the congressional hearings to build an airtight case against the onion cartel. (PNA)