Philippine government urged to prioritize agricultural insurance

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva has urged the government to address the agricultural insurance problems of Filipino farmers and include them in the plan to mitigate the impacts of El Nino.

According to a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Labor Force Survey, 10.5 million employed Filipinos or 22.2% depend on agriculture as a source of income.

Villanueva filed Senate Resolution 549 to scrutinize the state of the government’s agricultural insurance program and put in place measures to protect Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.

He noted that the low availment of agricultural insurance for farmers is alarming, given the country’s need to prepare for the impacts of natural extreme events, disasters, and climate change.

The resolution states that “among the major factors for the low productivity and erratic trends in agriculture are climate change, regular weather disturbances and disasters.”

The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) provides insurance under seven agricultural insurance lines, including rice crop, corn crop, high-value crops, livestock, fisheries & aquaculture, non-crop agricultural assets, and credit and life-term insurance.

In 2020, the PCIC insured a total of 3,090,251 farmers and fisherfolk, with a protection assured amount of PHP 94.591 billion and a generated premium of PHP 5.086 billion.

However, Villanueva noted that the PCIC should address farmers’ issues with filing indemnity claims, such as the lack of knowledge and the long process of claims payments, documentary requirements, and additional costs, which led to its low availment.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) reported that weather disturbances left PHP 746 million in agricultural damages in January 2023 alone, while the PSA estimated that from 2010 to 2019, damages to agriculture totaled PHP 290 billion.

Villanueva emphasized the need for safety nets to protect the livelihood of Filipinos employed in agriculture and the food security of the entire country.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned the public to brace for the El Nino phenomenon expected to be declared by May.

Villanueva urged the government to ensure the accessibility, availability, and sufficiency of agricultural insurance to prepare for the impacts of natural extreme events, disasters, and climate change. –