Senator cites enactment of pet bills on agriculture

Sen. Cynthia Villar in welcoming the enactment of two of her priority bills said the needed reforms are now in place to help the agriculture sector.

Last May 16, President Aquino signed into law Republic Act (RA) No. 10816 or the Farm Tourism Development Act, and RA 10817 or the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Act.

“Although there’s still a lot to be accomplished in terms of legislative support for the agriculture sector, we are thankful to the President for seeing the merit of these bills in helping our farmers and farm workers create additional sources of income,” Villar said.

Villar, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, defended the passage of the two bills at the Senate.

RA 10816 encourages the development of farm areas to attract tourists for production, educational and recreational purposes.

“Farm tourism will be a major contributor in bringing back the glory days of agriculture in our country given the potential to increase the income of people involved in agriculture as well as to help solve the problem of urban migration,” Villar said.

Villar also noted that long before the farm tourism label, small, family-owned, and community-based farms are already thriving in many parts of the country. With this law, local farm tourism practitioners and operators will be able to level up their farm operations or activities.

RA 10817 creates the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Board to promote the growth and ensure the integrity and quality of Philippine Halal exports.

Villar said the law enables local industries to compete in the expanding Halal industry, especially with the implementation of the regional economic integration under the ASEAN Economic Community.

“Without a halal export legal framework in place, our products become susceptible to doubts from receiving countries. Some “fly-by-night” certifying bodies may issue certification without duly inspecting the goods,” she stressed.

Halal means permitted or lawful. Halal foods are those allowed to be eaten according to the Islamic Sharia law.

“The impact of government support for Halal industry will significantly benefit the agricultural and manufacturing sectors in Mindanao, including conflict areas,” Villar said.

Under the law, the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Program will be formulated to cover the entire value chain for food, products and services- from production of raw foods and materials, agricultural production, processing, manufacturing, Halal industry promotion and development, export and marketing assistance, business enterprise development, development and application of Halal certification standards, and forging of international agreements to harmonize domestic standards with international standards.

The Halal Board will oversee the formulation and the monitoring of the program. It will be composed of the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as chair; Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) as vice-chair; and heads of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Tourism (DOT), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) as member government agencies, and two Muslim Filipinos who have experience in Halal industry development.

Source: The Philippine Information Agency

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