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Iloilo launches the ‘SIGURADO’ initiative to assist farmers affected by El Niño

By Perla Lena

ILOILO CITY – The provincial administration of Iloilo has disbursed PHP15 million to the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) as payment for the insurance premiums of local farmers, subsequent to the inauguration of the province’s Sustainable Insurance of the Government for Upscaling and Revitalizing Agri-Fishery Development and Opportunity (SIGURADO) program on Tuesday.

Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. emphasized the significance of this initiative as a primary measure during El Niño periods when water scarcity affects agricultural productivity and impacts farmers. He remarked, ‘This marks a pivotal policy shift wherein we prioritize providing our farmers with access to insurance.

He said it is better if they have it with a government insurer that assures them of bigger and better benefits once they are hit by calamities rather than giving them individual insurance.

PCIC president and lawyer Jovy C. Bernabe said the fund will go “a long way” as the province is leveraging its money instead of giving it directly to the farmers. In terms of payback, the PHP15 million can have as much as PHP30 million in claims to affected farmers.

“This PHP15 million will supplement the PHP200 million that we have allotted by way of government premium subsidy of around 120,000 farmers in the province this year,” Bernabe said. Its implementation is systematic, he added, since it is not just being given to anyone for they have criteria to follow.

PCIC regional manager for Western Visayas Eva Laud said Iloilo is the third province in the region to enter into such kind of arrangement with their office after Negros Occidental and Capiz.

Laud said the fund will be used to enroll rice farmers, especially those whose lands are irrigated and are planning to plant palay.

Provincial Agriculture Office head Dr. Ildefonso Toledo said as of March 4, the partial damage caused by drought was estimated at over PHP420 million in rice areas.

He said of the 16,000 hectares of land that have standing rice crops in 16 towns, 7,931.75 hectares were affected; 764.55 hectares were devastated and 7,167.20 were partially damaged.

Close to 8,600 rice farmers are affected. (PNA)

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