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Farmer debt condonation bill to increase output and food security

The measure forgiving the beneficiaries of the agrarian reform’s debts, which amount to PHP57.55 billion, is expected to be signed into law. Speaker Martin Romualdez stated on Friday that this will assist farmers in becoming more productive and achieving food security for the nation.

Romualdez said in a statement that the bill currently awaiting President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s signature would release 610,054 farmers from debts owed to acquire agrarian reform lands with a combined area of 1,173,101 hectares.

“Our farmers will be able to invest more in their land and increase output once freed from the weight of debt. Better yields and earnings may result from this, which will enhance our farmers and their families’ quality of life, according to Romualdez.

With the dual issues of rising prices for farm inputs, particularly fertilizers, and the negative effects of climate change on the agriculture sector, he continued, “This relief to hundreds of thousands of agrarian reform beneficiaries gains even more significance.”

Out of the 42 priority initiatives President Marcos selected through the Legislative-Executive Advisory Council (LEDAC), the bill is one of the 31 that the House of Representatives has so far approved.

He said the proposal would enhance the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) range of services and programs for farmers.

He remarked, “We need to give our farmers every bit of assistance we can to encourage increased productivity and aid us in achieving food security.”

Romualdez promised that the House would keep looking at new possibilities for reviving the nation’s agricultural industry.

To lower prices for consumers and defend local farmers from exploitation by a cartel that confines supplies and manipulates prices, he highlighted that when the price of onions increased to nearly PHP700 per kilo in December of last year, he had asked for a congressional investigation.

In addition, he asked law enforcement agencies, including the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine Competition Commission, and the Department of Attorney General, to collaborate and follow up on leads discovered during the congressional hearings to create a solid case against the onion cartel.

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