Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on Agriculture, appears to be lukewarm to the five-day pork holiday proposed by the hog raisers in the country, saying that it is not the answer to the problem.
Commercial and backyard hog raisers in the country expressed their dismay on what they claim as failure of the government to stop the smuggling of pork and other agricultural commodities, which are now competing with local production and sold at lower prices.
In Negros Occidental alone, there are 17,500 backyard hog raisers, the group's chairperson, former Salvador Benedicto Mayor Cynthia de la Cruz, who led its members in the participation of “ lechon parade”, at the Capitol Grounds in Bacolod City, said last night.
Villar, who spoke at the opening of the 25th Hog Convention in Bacolod City, said that hog raisers just want to get the attention of the national government to immediately act on their immediate concerns.
“The government should do something to help them, Villar said, noting that 65 percent of hog raisers in the country are backyard farmers.
If the groups of hog raisers in the country push through the five-day pork holiday this month, it could stop the flow of pork to the markets estimated at 12 million kilos per day, or 60 million kilos for five days, reports said.
Villar said there is now a law, recently passed by Congress, making agricultural problems “economic sabotage”, and a non-bailable charge.
What is good is, it is not only the smugglers who will be convicted, but also those government officials who may extend help in the smuggling activities, she added.
SUGARCANE DEVELOPMENT ACT
As to the Sugarcane Industry Development Act, which she had sponsored in the Senate and it was passed into law after being approved by President Benigno Aquino III, Villar said its funding has been included in the 2016 budget, and already distributed to the concerned government agencies.
Villar said the P200 million for scholarships is now with the Commission on Higher Education, while the rest will be given to the Sugar Regulatory Administration, with 50 percent allocated for infrastructure, 15 percent for support to block farming, 15 percent for shared facilities program, and 10 percent for research and development.
“I think the sugar industry is very happy now,” she added.
With the signing into law of SIDA, with Rep. Alfredo Benitez as the main proponent in the House of Representatives, the sugar industry is getting P2 billion in annual funds.*GPB
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