A legislator on Friday renewed the call for the immediate passage of the bill that provides better incentives for coffee farmers.
The eruption of Taal Volcano wrought havoc on the coffee farms in Batangas and Cavite, further endangering the coffee industry.
Rep. Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-OWA Party-list said coffee growers and their workers need immediate relief from the destruction of their crops caused by the volcano eruption.
House Bill 3598, otherwise known as the Coffee Industry Development Act, once enacted, shall establish a national program that shall concretize support for the country’s coffee industry and introduce stronger measures that would safeguard the welfare of coffee farmers, Garin said.
The bill provides technical assistance in planting systems and rehabilitation of farms, as well as the development of effective production systems.
Garin also incorporated a provision that mandates the establishment and maintenance of a germplasm collection and gene bank for coffee. The said provision intends to help farmers by ensuring that plant genetic material is preserved and readily available in cases of severe natural calamities.
Upon the enactment of the bill, a National Coffee Board to be chaired by the secretary of the Department of Agriculture shall be in charge of directing, supervising and monitoring the development and promotion of the coffee industry. Maricel V. Cruz
The Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) shall be installed as Vice-Chair, while the Secretaries of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall serve as members, respectively.
The bill further mandates the representation of State Universities and Colleges; the League of Municipalities; a Non-Governmental Organization working on coffee production, research and development, processing or promotion; coffee growers; and coffee processors.
“There is a need to revitalize our coffee industry, especially when it comes to export. We can institute industry-wide improvements that would benefit farmers, processors, traders, consumers, and other industry partners through this measure,” Rep. Garin explained.
According to the privately-run Philippine Coffee Board (PCB), local growers are about to lose around 5,000 metric tons as a result of the volcanic unrest. Contrary to the 73.6M pesos in agricultural damages pegged by DA, PCB said the amount could reach as high as 1.2B pesos if computed based on the current market price of roasted coffee products.
House Bill 3598 is pending with the Committee on Agriculture and Food. Garin said she is optimistic that the bill will be enacted in the 18th Congress for the benefit of coffee farmers.