Agri modernization should not come at expense of the poor: DSWD

MANILAModernization of the agriculture sector should not come at the expense of the 4.4 million poor households benefiting from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), an official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Monday.

DSWD Undersecretary Emmanuel Leyco said that while they support the need for the agriculture sector to achieve modernization and reinforced its benefits to the farmers and fisherfolk, it should not happen that would be detrimental to indigents who are beneficiaries of 4Ps.

"We support the aim to advance farmers and fisherfolk productivity. But not at the expense of the poor," Leyco said in an interview with the media.

Leyco was reacting to the Department of Agriculture's (DA) pronouncement last week to convert the PHP70 billion 4Ps budget into livelihood funds to help the agriculture sector program promote countryside development.

Leyco added it would be better if DA and DSWD programs would be done simultaneously and intensified for better outcomes.

He noted also that the subsidy provided for the poor household benefiting from 4Ps are not actually dole out but an incentive for them to improve their quality of life.

Leyco said the subsidy typically received by 4Ps recipients is used to buy food, and basic needs for their daily survival.

"What the poor actually receives from the program is barely enough to sustain them but at the same time it is something for them not to ignore also," he said.

A typical household receives PHP2,600 a month to fulfill conditionalities of 85 percent school attendance. The household is also provided with healthcare services but members should regularly attend family development sessions.

"It's not a dole out. In comparison to a scholarship scheme of the government, it acts as support fund for them to continue going to school and to seek healthcare," he said.

"I think it's is totally justifiable for the government to subsidize the poor people so that they can be motivated, incentivized and be supported to pursue education."

Leyco admitted that 4Ps alone is not the overall solution to reduce the poverty incidence rate because a convergence of programs are actually needed to enable the poor to be self-sufficient.

He said that stopping the 4Ps program will actually have a negative impact to the poor, making the situation even harder for them.

"I think what we need is to come out with comprehensive reforms that will address the problems to make their products viable in the area," he said.

He said that it is also important to create a system wherein farmers can actually have a market to transport directly their goods and be empowered to dictate the price of their harvest. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency