Rural entrepreneurship law key to alleviating poverty in countrysides-Lacson

April 26, 2010

More than sixty percent of the poorest Filipino families live in the rural areas and Liberal Party senatorial candidate Atty. Alex ‘Pinoy’ Lacson believes that government should extend a bigger budgetary allocation to this sector through modernizing agriculture, promoting education and training, and widening the number of entrepreneurs among the ranks of the poor.

In the latest SWS survey, more than 43% of Filipinos are still living below the poverty line. Based on the survey, rural-based families or those living off the land through farming are the ones sorely affected by extreme poverty. Sixty percent of Filipinos who experienced hunger for the past couple of months live mostly in rural areas.

Hunger incidence rose from 47% to 60% due to farmers’ inability to earn more income from the sale of their products and poor productivity due to natural disasters, such as El Nino and massive flooding caused by typhoons. Lacson says recovery is slow in the affected areas due to lack of emergency financial assistance.

Lacson, who came from a humble family in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, has seen the face of hunger and poverty especially in the rural area where he lived. He believes that one of the best ways to alleviate poverty in the rural areas is by extending financial or micro-financing as well as technical assistance to small farmers who comprise 78% of the poorest of the poor families. Government must also ensure that the Department of Agriculture (DA) provides farm inputs on a regular basis particularly to small farmers.

“Farmers need assistance in improving their crop yields and the only means possible is through access to modern farming equipment and methods, as well as assistance in getting pesticides, fertilizers and other farm inputs.

“If we improve productivity, we improve the earning capacity of our fellow farmers. But, it does not end there. We also must ensure that their products reach markets at the soonest possible time.”

Furthermore, Lacson believes that farmer families should be trained to become entrepreneurs. Lacson proposes that a special unit be created within the TESDA and the DA specifically to help provide technical assistance to farmers and their beneficiaries.

“A law must be crafted so that entrepreneurial skills training programs for farmers and rural workers can be institutionalized, not just a small program within the TESDA and the DA. Consistent with the transfer of newer technologies, and instructing them on modern farming techniques, farmers should be trained on management, financial and marketing skills. This way, we create independent farmer entrepreneurs.

“Educating farmers and their families on improving their output and production, is key to alleviating their plight.”