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By Lucia Edna P. de Guzman

Agri development fund, native animals and protected areas among Senate environment priorities

Posted on January 23, 2017

Bill on allocating a portion of the development fund of local government units for agriculture and fisheries advancement, native animal development and expanding the coverage of the National Integrated and Protected Areas System (NIPAS) act are among the priorities of the Senate committees on environment and natural resources and agriculture and food, to be passed before the Holy Week break.

In a statement by Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on environment and vice-chairperson of the committee on agriculture, she outlined her priority bills for the session.

Senators were asked in a caucus before the session to submit their priority bills.

“These bills were among the bills I filed to advance my legislative agenda in instituting reforms in the agriculture and environment sectors,” Ms. Villar said.

Senate Bill (SB) no. 318, or the Local Government Agriculture Development Act, would allocate 10% of LGU development funds for agriculture and fishery programs.

Citing the growing consumption of meat among Filipinos, SB no. 144 was filed to promote the breeding of native animals, which per Ms. Villar would be cheaper to raise and more adaptable to the country’s climate.

The bill proposes the creation of a Philippine Native Animal Development Center, with the coordination of the Departments of Agriculture, Science and Technology, and Environment and Natural Resources, along with native animal growers’ organizations, and LGUs, which would come up with a 20-year framework for the development of this sector.

As for the expansion of the NIPAS law, Ms. Villar said this would include 97 additional protected areas in the 240 currently listed.

“If agriculture can grow at 3 to 4%, the average for the world, poverty in the country would substantially be reduced,” the senator said.

“The growth in the Philippine agricultural sector was only 1.7% yearly for the last five years. Now, there is slow and inefficient delivery of government support to the agriculture sector, and very limited impact of such support,” she added.

The Senate adjourns on March 17.

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