Issue of October 7, 2018
Mt. Province

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Solon urges displaced miners to shift to agri
by Pamela Mariz Geminiano / PNA

Senator Cynthia Villar urged displaced small-scale miners to venture into agriculture and construction as alternative livelihood after the President ordered the closure of small-scale mines nationwide.

With the government’s build, build, build program, Villar, who attended the convention of the Philippine Society of Animal Nutritionists last Oct. 3, said agriculture and construction are now the in-thing.

Two days after the landslide in mid-September, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered a halt to all small-scale mining activities in the entire Cordillera and canceled all mining contracts earlier approved by the department. The move displaced more than 12,000 small-scale miners in Benguet.

Villar said the displaced miners can avail themselves of scholarships offered by farm schools that teach organic farming. She also urged farmers in the region to avail of the interventions spelled out in the Farm Tourism Law.

She said farmers will earn higher income, free education for themselves and their families, and ultimately food security for the whole country if they avail of the programs under the law.

"As of today, we have 1,855 farm schools that are accredited by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. In all provinces, we also have construction schools that can teach them skills, so they can be employed," Villar said.

Farm tourism is defined under the law as “the practice of attracting visitors and tourists to farm areas for production, educational, and recreational purposes.”

It involves any agricultural or fishery-based operation or activity that brings to a farm visitors, tourists, farmers, and fisherfolk who want to be educated and trained in farming and its related activities. It also provides a venue for outdoor recreation and accessible family outings, a sort of an experiential tourism activity.

“Farm tourism also gives the farmers a competitive edge because of added knowledge and more potential buyers and traders for their produce,” Villar said.

She added that through the farm schools, the children of farmers could also study and acquire education on farm management and production, which could boost the country’s agriculture industry in the long run.

The Tesda will shoulder the tuition of those who will enroll under the program.

“I appeal to those farmers. Venture in farm tourism. Aside from the production, you can also convert your houses into homestays for the tourists, and you can also convert your farms into school farms. You will be paid by Tesda and you will earn as well,” she said.

Villar also cited a pending bill at the Senate which seeks government allocation of P10 billion as competitive enhancement fund that will help rice farmers mechanize.

“Apart from the P10B allocation, we have passed the Coconut Farmer and Industry Development Law that will provide P15B a year to help coconut farmers,” Villar added.

She said lawmakers are inclined to pass a law that will allot P10B a year for the development of the livestock, poultry, and dairy sectors.

Villar said there are also construction schools that hold mobile teaching and can help displaced workers.

She said workers in the construction industry are in demand.

The government has poured in billions for its “Build, Build, Build” program to put up massive infrastructure facilities nationwide, raising the demand for construction workers.

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