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Garin seeks rehabilitation aid for Taal-affected coffee farms

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House Committee on Economic Affairs chair Sharon Garin renewed her call for the passage the of the proposed Coffee Industry Development Act amid the havoc caused by the sudden eruption of the Taal Volcano that left coffee farmers of Cavite and Batangas in a quandary.

Garin, representative of party-list AAMBIS-OWA, expressed her concern, noting that in the season supposed where coffee flowers and berries are just beginning to bloom and bear fruit, ash-covered farms threaten to exacerbate the country’s declining coffee production.

According to the privately-run Philippine Coffee Board (PCB), local growers are about to lose around 5,000 metric tons as a result of Taal’s volcanic unrest.

PCB noted that Contrary to the P73.6 million in agricultural damages pegged by Department of Agriculture, the projected damage on Taal-affected coffee farms could reach as high as P1.2 billion, “if computed based on the current market price of roasted coffee products.”

Garin recently filed House Bill No. 3598, which aims to establish a national program that will concretize support for the country’s coffee industry and introduce stronger measures that would safeguard the welfare of coffee farmers.

The measure highlights technical assistance in planting systems and rehabilitation of farms, as well as the development of effective production systems.

Also incorporated under HB 3598 is a provision that mandates the establishment and maintenance of a germplasm collection and gene bank for coffee.

The said provision intends to help farmers by ensuring that plant genetic material is preserved and readily available in cases of severe natural calamities.

Upon the enactment of the bill, a National Coffee Board to be chaired by the Agriculture Secretary of the shall be in charge of directing, supervising and monitoring the development and promotion of the coffee industry.

House Bill 3598 is pending with the Committee on Agriculture and Food since August 2019.

Garin said she remains optimistic that the bill will be enacted in the 18th Congress for the benefit of coffee farmers especially by the affected farmers in Cavite and Batangas.

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