Press Release
January 28, 2018

Villar vows to hasten approval of other bills to boost the agri sector

Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, chair of the Senate agriculture and food committee, has promised to hasten the approval of other relevant bills referred to her committee to further spur agricultural growth.

For instance, Villar said, she had called a hearing late last year on the implementation of Republic Act 3708 or the Seeds Industry Development Act of 1992 due to its failure to make available high-quality seeds to small farmers.

The senator said she filed Senate Bill 322, which seeks to establish a continuing national program for hybrid and other quality seeds production.

"Allow me to give you an update on my authored bills, such as the National Food Authority (NFA) Reorganization Act; and the Abolition of the irrigation service fees for small farmers and some other bills," said Villar during the Initial Consultative Meeting & Launching of (Food and Agriculture Organization) FAO-Legislative Advisory Group PH or FLAG-PH.

The reorganization of the NFA, Villar said, is among the priorities of her committee for this year. She believes the NFA is due for reorganization because of the key role it plays in the lives of rice-eating Filipinos and a rice-producing Philippines or our food security.

Until now, she lamented that the Philippines is yet to reach its rice self-sufficiency targets.

She also noted that President Rodrigo Duterte is keen on NFA taking a bigger role by handling other agricultural commodities (rice and corn) besides rice.

The senator likewise happily related that for the first time in our country's history, irrigation is now free for farmers.

"I am the primary author of the Free Irrigation Service to Small Farmers Act of 2017 or Senate Bill 1465 (under Committee Report No. 103)," said Villar

"Once signed into law, free irrigation services will be institutionalized for small farmers or those with eight hectares or below, which as UN-FAO acknowledges are the ones that will feed the world's population. It is truly a landmark law that will benefit generations of Filipino farmers," she added.

Villar has also conducted a public hearing on the proposal to lift quantitative restriction on rice. She pushed for the creation of a special fund composed of all duties collected from the importation of rice to be spent on programs that will hasten competitiveness of Filipino farmers.

Villar also noted that during the 16th Congress, she led the passage into law of 16 significant bills on agriculture and fisheries.

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