By Marriane V. Go (The Philippine Star) Updated July 10, 2009 – Click to see the original article

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is proposing a P300 million to P500 million budget for the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) next year to enable the agency to expand its insurance coverage for farmers.

This was announced yesterday by Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap to reporters following the launch of the Bayan Anihan project of the Gawad Kalinga and Selecta in Barangay San Andres in Cainta, Rizal.

Up to last year, annual government support for the PCIC was only P100 million. For this year, upon the help of Sen. Edgardo Angara, financial support for the PCIC was raised to P183 million.At present, only about 80,000 to 100,000 rice and corn farmers are covered by the PCIC, according to PCIC president Jovy C. Bernabe.The increase in PCIC’s funding this year to P183 million, Bernabe said, would allow the insurance agency to expand its insurance coverage to between 250,000 to 300,000 farmers. Majority of farmers, Bernabe said, are not aware of the benefit of availing of crop insurance against pest and diseases and calamites.

Additionally, some farmers also consider the premium payments to be an additional financial burden on top of their production cost.

Thus, from the previous practice of requiring farmers to pay 50 percent of the premium cost and government shouldering the corresponding 50 percent, Bernabe said the PCIC board approved just this April a further lowering to just 30 percent of the premium payments by farmers with the government increasing its subsidy to 70 percent of the premium payments.

Bernabe clarified that the increase in the PCIC’s funding to P183 million this year is a one time thing and an additional increase must be requested on a yearly basis.