TAGAYTAY City—“Ang tagumpay ng Pilipinas ay nakasalalay sa tagumpay ng pinakamahirap na sector ng Pilipinas—ang magsasaka.”
This was the message of the principal author and proponent—Senator Francis Pangilinan during the Sagip Saka IRR Public Consultation Luzon B Cluster (CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and BICOL) held on October 4, 2019 at the Tagaytay International Convention Center here.
The Sagip Saka Act or the Republic Act No. 11321 was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 17, 2019 which establishes the “Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program”. This program is “the comprehensive set of objectives, targets, and holistic approach in promoting the establishment of enterprises involving agricultural and fishery products”.
Pangilinan considered the signing of the law as a “major victory for farmers and fisherfolk.”
The program shall be integrated and be made consistent with the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Plan, and the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Plan.
The said law also creates the “Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Council” to oversee the proper implementation of the program.
The Departments of Agriculture (DA), Trade and Industry (DTI), Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Finance (DOF), as well as representatives from the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), farmers’ and fisherfolk’s associations, and agriculture/food/restaurant/business sector will compose the council.
Activities and funding support for Sagip Saka will be included in the DA’s annual plan and budget proposal.
Farmers and Fisherfolks will be provided assistance through agricultural extension services; skills development; provision of production inputs, equipment and facilities; access to credit, crop insurance, markets and technologies; and infrastructure for production and post-production activities.
Moreover, government groups will directly purchase agricultural and fisheries products from local farmers, fisherfolks, and accredited cooperatives. They will be exempted from the Procurement Law plus tax incentives and exemptions.
With SSA, farmers will be assured of interventions, support, guidance and assistance. “Nothing is more joyful than a bountiful harvest,” Pangilinan said as he shared his experience with farming. (jaysonmgonzales)