Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman on Saturday pushed the passage of a bill institutionalizing the “Kadiwa” store project.
Roman filed House Bill 5601, to be known as the “Magna Carta for Agricultural Workers and Revitalized Agriculture Value Chain of 2022,” stressing that expanding the scope of the Kadiwa store project will be good for both the farmers and the consumers.
Roman said the Kadiwa system enables the public to buy goods at cheaper rates, while at the same time enable the farmers to earn from their harvests without passing the burden of high costs to the buyers.
“What we experienced during the pandemic should be a lesson learned in terms of logistics and supply chain planning,” Roman said.
In her proposed measure, Roman, chairperson of the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality, said the Kadiwa must be institutionalized as the government arm to buy directly to agricultural workers, ensuring a rate of return that would allow them to live comfortably and still have the possession to engage in a revitalized agriculture value chain.
“The value chain addresses supply chain gaps within the agriculture industry and develops an alternative market for domestically produced agricultural goods completely dedicated to maximizing the economic benefit of both producers and consumers,” Roman stated.
Roman filed the bill in line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s pronouncement in his first State of the Nation Address that the government’s top priority is to bring down the prices of basic commodities and make it affordable, including reviving the Kadiwa centers.
She said her bill sets up an infrastructure map by providing resilience in case the supply chain is compromised by natural or man-made calamities.
“We need to transform agriculture to a sustainable and diversified sector to ensure economic recovery, reduction of poverty, and food security,” Roman said adding that without agriculture, there is no food. Agriculture is both production and price.
In her explanatory note of the bill, Roman said the country’s workforce can be classified into three major groupings: Services, Industry and Agriculture. “But agriculture provides our country’s needs and our security. Agriculture constitutes 25 percent of the total labor force which is mostly at the threshold of poverty. Industry stands at 1 percent and Services contribute 57 percent to the labor force of the country,” she explained.
“The Philippines was an agricultural country which had its growth years the late 60s to early 70s. The last time we were able to attain an agricultural surplus was in 1993. By then, the Philippines joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). The promises were agriculture will flourish and about 500,000 new jobs per year will be generated,” Roman said adding that the membership from the WTO led to economic decline, incurred trade deficit, and started dependency on importation.
In addition, Roman said locally, the share of agriculture to Gross Domestic Products (GDP) shrank plus the failure to adapt to diversity in agriculture, forestry, and fishery production limited the chances to effectively compete to the potential of growing local and international markets.
Agriculture contributes 10 percent of GDP in the first quarter of 2022 while Industry was at 28 percent and Services at 61 percent.
“Agriculture is very important to the domestic economy. Hence, agricultural workers should be given all the rights beneficial to them and their families from the production and selling of their produce. Agriculture workers should be treated equally as all other workers as a minimum condition to work and employment,” Roman stated.
Under the revitalized agriculture value chain, the production of agricultural products shall be the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture (DA) while processing, packaging, marketing, and trading shall be under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), specifically through Kadiwa markets and outlets.