Senator Cynthia Villar has underscored the need to invest in research and development to hasten the growth and development of the country’s agriculture sector.
Villar, chairman of the Senate agriculture and food committee, stressed that agri growth was very important to Filipinos because the majority or two-thirds of the population were directly and indirectly involved in agriculture.
Villar said she had always been a firm believer in the importance of R&D.
She advocates the incorporation of R&D in the agriculture sector, which also helps improve agricultural mechanization efforts.
The senator was the guest speaker during the Turnover Ceremony of Decorticating Machine.
The machines will help increase the productivity and income of the farmer-beneficiaries especially the 3.5-million coconut farmers.
“lf we address the poverty among the coconut farmers and the rice farmers, I believe it will have a huge impact in improving our country’s poverty level since they compose 90 percent of all our farmers,” said Villar.
In the Senate, Villar said they had passed the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund bill to safeguard the P100-billion coconut levy funds.
She also guaranteed the coconut farmers and their families would be the direct beneficiaries of the coco levy funds after resolving this decades-old issue.
“Of course, that is just one aspect. My actions and support are not only through legislation. I also make sure that I have practical approaches that will benefit the poor like these decorticating machine and coco coir processing machine or facility,” said Villar.
Being a social entrepreneur, Villar said she was a proponent of a similar technology which they have been using in Las Piñas City to provide livelihood and augment income of farmers.
“I know first-hand how technological innovation can improve people’s lives. One of the livelihood programs that I set up through the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance [SIPAG] the coconut-weaving enterprise uses the decorticating machine.
Several years ago, she said Las Piñas had a grave problem on flooding due to the trash being dumped into the Las Piñas River.
Among the wastes being thrown, there were coconut husks.
The coconut weaving enterprise was set up to help in the waste management aside from giving a source of income to residents.
“We extract fiber and coco peat from the coco husks using the decorticating machine. The fiber is used for making coconet that controls erosion in sloping areas or riprap materials,” said Villar.
Coconut dust, on the other hand, is used as a raw material in mixing with household wastes to make organic fertilizer being distributed for free to farmers and urban gardeners.
“This is a good example of how a simple invention could be a source of livelihood for many families and how it helped a city get rid of wastes that clog rivers and waterways causing floods,” Villar said.