Make Agri insurance pay-outs automatic – IMEE

Calamity declarations should no longer be the only basis for releasing aid to crop and livestock farmers coping with natural calamities as typhoons and animal diseases, Senator Imee Marcos said.

Marcos issued the statement Monday as the Senate gathered as a Committee of the Whole to discuss the effects of increased pork importation while African Swine Fever (ASF) continued to batter the local hog industry.

“Local hog raisers are reeling from the delay in additional fund assistance attached to a state of calamity declaration. Let’s not wait for more hog raisers to shut down business and for the local industry to collapse,”  Marcos said.

The government has yet to declare a state of calamity due to ASF, despite  the spread of the highly contagious animal disease in 12 regions, 40 provinces, 466 cities and municipalities, and 2,425 communities in the country, according to an April 1 report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, has proposed via Senate Bill 883 an “index-based insurance system” wherein neither a disaster declaration nor an assessment by an insurance company is necessary for the release of financial aid to crop and livestock farmers.

“Farmers need not file claims, as in the traditional system, because financial relief will automatically be triggered when certain predetermined thresholds are reached, like weather conditions as rainfall or windspeed, or animal disease infection rates in areas where an outbreak is suspected,” Marcos explained.

The Marcos bill calls on the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) to create “index-based insurance products,” so that protection can be expanded to include fortuitous events, as defined by Article 1174 of the Civil Code, which include “acts of God,” natural occurrences, as well as “acts of man,” such as robbery, riots, strikes, wars, and governmental prohibitions that can lead to food shortages.

“The PCIC has a long track record of efficiency, despite being underfunded, and can pilot this alternative system that assures a swifter release of aid to farmers and helps ensure food security when calamity strikes,” Marcos said.

Marcos added that the quicker aid response of an index-based system will encourage more crop and livestock farmers to insure their produce, citing that less than 34% of the country’s food producers are insured with the PCIC.

“Hog raisers, in particular, will also be encouraged to report rather than hide the incidence of animal diseases like ASF,” Marcos also said. ###