People living in rural areas may no longer have to migrate to crowded urban areas of the country to find jobs once the Barangay Kabuhayan bill authored by is passed into law.
"I believe gainful employment can be had in the provinces, thus there's hardly a need for people to try their luck in crowded cities like Manila," said Legarda.
Legarda's bill seeks to establish a livelihood program and skills training centers in rural areas, enabling local government units (LGUs) to help largely untapped human resources to be productive.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Social Justice and Rural Development, Legarda said the proposed Kabuhayan Law will complement the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises Act.
She said the bill is intended to address dehumanizing poverty in the country.
"We often hear the President promising that the government is fighting poverty. Every SONA (State of the Nation Address), the government always presents what it has accomplished as far as its anti-poverty programs are concerned," Legarda said.
"But the problem is, people have remained poor and, worse, millions are getting hungry," she said.
However, Legarda frowned on government relying subsidies in helping the poor, saying "what's needed are long-term solutions."
Under the Barangay Kabuhayan Law, rural folks are prepared to engage in gainful employment and entrepreneurial work.
Legarda had earlier asked the government to focus more on small and medium scale industries to generate jobs necess30 ary to cushion the impact of massive layoffs caused by the prevailing world economic skid.
Loren Wants Agro-forestry Given Priority
Senator Loren Legarda voiced support for agro-forestry and urged the government to look into potential economic and ecological benefits that may be derived from it.
Agro-forestry is an agricultural system that integrates planting of trees on land with other farm enterprises in order to enhance crop yield and crop diversification. This leads to improved and improved income due to the cultivation of high-yield crops.
Legarda, the chairperson of the Senate , said that climate change causes low food production for Filipino farmers and threatens the country's food security.
Last April, the Philippines experienced a rice crisis when domestic supply was found to be insufficient while global prices of the almost doubled. The government had to resort to rationing rice at a subsidized price to poor Filipinos who endured long queues.
"Poor Filipinos became poorer by 20% as a result of the sudden increase in food prices," Legarda said.
She further noted World Bank President Bob Zoellick's estimate that food inflation could push at least 100 million people into poverty, wiping out all the gains in reducing poverty made in almost a decade of economic growth.
"But with agro-forestry, farmers would be able to adapt to variations in rainfall and temperature. At the same time, farmers will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases which cause ." Legarda also agreed to the observation of Maria Bernadita-Flores of the National Nutrition Council that a rice crisis, coupled with higher prices of fuel, brings about the "clear and present danger" of greater hunger incidence and undernourishment among Filipinos.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) also came out with a report that changing weather patterns as a result of climate change could lower
Legarda expressed alarm over worsening hunger and malnutrition due to decreasing food supply, as reported by the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), PAGASA, the (IFPRI), and the Nutrition Centre of the Philippines (NCP).
"These agencies were unanimous in saying that tight supply of rice threatens to undermine nutrition efforts. And the same agencies point to the climate change as the culprit threatening food security," she said.
Legarda has been proposing the creation of a climate change body. She has also been supporting climate change-easing programs which includes "climate-proofing" of small farms through agro-forestry in Albay and developing a new template for re-greening Philippine highways and roadways. "Aside from , agro-forestry is also a timely and considerable help in protecting soil, water and wildlife," she said.
Luntiang Pilipinas, a tree-planting and growing organization founded by Legarda, is currently building a national nursery at Los Banos in Laguna in partnership with the Bureau of Plant Industry. Luntiang Pilipinas will next fund municipal nurseries in Antique and Iloilo. In the meantime, the Million Mangroves Project is ongoing in selected areas in Cebu.
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