The Philippine government must find ways to address farmers’ agricultural insurance issues as part of its measures to mitigate the impact of El Niño, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said.
The senator stressed the importance of having a future-ready and easily accessible insurance program for farmers, especially as the country prepares for extreme natural events caused by climate change and disasters.
Villanueva cited the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Labor Force Survey in January, which showed that 10.5 million or around 22.2 percent of employed Filipinos have their livelihoods rooted in the agricultural sector. He warned that without measures to protect the sector, there will be a severe decline in employment, leading to low agricultural production and endangering the livelihood of millions of Filipinos and the country’s food security.
Villanueva is renewing the push for his proposed Senate resolution, which urges the appropriate panel to investigate the impacts of large-scale natural events, calamities, and climate change, as well as the state of the government’s agricultural insurance programs. The call comes as the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration announced that an El Niño Alert would be issued by May and is expected to last until 2024. President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has created a government team to prepare for a possible water shortage and mitigate the effects of El Niño.
The Philippine government’s agricultural insurance program aims to provide protection to farmers against crop damage caused by natural disasters such as typhoons, floods, and droughts. However, only a small percentage of farmers have taken advantage of the program due to several issues such as lack of information, limited access, and the high cost of premiums. A recent study revealed that less than 10 percent of Filipino farmers have agricultural insurance.
Several experts have suggested that the government could improve the situation by increasing its funding for agricultural insurance programs and simplifying the application process. Some also recommend developing policies that could encourage more private insurers to provide coverage for farmers.
Aside from addressing agricultural insurance issues, experts have also recommended other measures to help mitigate the impact of El Niño, including the provision of irrigation systems and the development of drought-resistant crops. In addition, they have suggested that the government should also invest in research and development to improve the country’s resilience to natural disasters.