MANILA — Farmers groups and representatives from various government agencies and the private sector are asking lawmakers to extend the insurance project that helps rice and corn farmers in Mindanao recover their losses from calamities.
Launched in June 2015, the Weather Index-Based Insurance (WIBI) Mindanao project is targeted at reducing poverty in areas that are vulnerable to risks brought about by climate change. The project runs until June this year.
It is a project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Department of Agriculture–Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (DA-PCIC), in collaboration with several other agencies.
WIBI is a form of insurance under the program called “Scaling-up Risk Transfer Mechanisms for Climate Vulnerable Agriculture-based Communities in Mindanao”.
Agriculture Undersecretary for Agribusiness Bernadette Romulo Puyat asked lawmakers, private sector, and other stakeholders to expand coverage of the project to national level.
Bohol 3rd District Representative Arthur Yap, a former Agriculture Secretary, has filed a bill mandating the PCIC to offer index-based insurance coverage and allowing it to engage in reinsurance.
Yap also sought P10 billion in additional funding for the PCIC on top of its current budget of P2 billion.
He stressed the need for having a crop insurance system in the country, noting farmers belong to the most vulnerable sector during the typhoon season.
“This major policy initiative is a key driver to further streamline the product improvement of WIBI and to ultimately scale out to greater geographical areas with a larger number of smallholder farmers and a greater variety of crops beyond rice and corn,” he said.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, has said the Senate is now reviewing the possible extension of the program and the crafting a new crop insurance system.
Villar supports any agricultural insurance, which she considers as a practical way of addressing farmers’ need.
There are 2,413 farmers who are currently enrolled in the WIBI and 2,743 hectares that have been insured by PCIC. Records show that PCIC has released 178 payouts worth P1.48 million or $29,700.
Meanwhile, PCIC President Jovy Bernabe urged more farmers to enroll in various crop insurance programs under the DA.
He assured stakeholders of improved service, including the use of modern technology to give farmers fast and easy access to claims. Leslie D. Venzon/PNA