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Rep. Fuentebella assures study grants for farmers' children

NAGA CITY, July 18, 2016 (Bicol Standard) -- It's killing two birds with one stone.

Camarines Sur 4th District Representative and former Deputy Speaker Arnulfo "Noli" Fuentebella addressed equal access to quality education and sustainable agriculture and fisheries development with the filing of House Bill 1590, an Act Granting College Scholarship to Legitimate Dependent Children of Farmers & Fisherfolks Attending State Colleges or Universities And Appropriating Funds Therefor.

Rep. Noli Fuentebella
"The mass exodus of agricultural workers to shift to a high-paying job in the urban areas or to even sell their farmlands in order to send their children to college or university has adversely affected agricultural productivity in the countryside," Fuentebella affirmed.

The bill seeks to offer an option to the plight of small, cash-strapped farmers and fisherfolks who are constrained to dispose of their lands and fishing boats to enable their children to pursue higher education, which defeats the government's purpose of encouraging agricultural growth in the rural areas. Considerable strain shall be lifted off the farmers' backs when they are assured of assistance for their children's college education, and they remain active contributors to the overall agriculture value chain.

Under the bill, an agricultural workers registry shall be established in every municipality or city that will serve as database for all farmers and fisherfolks who voluntarily register and a basis in determining the legitimacy of their occupation in the agriculture sector. The Department of Agriculture shall issue a certification for the purpose of availing by the farmers' children the college scholarship grant which covers tuition and matriculation fees in a state university or college.

While said measure assures quality tertiary education to children of agricultural workers, it likewise, purposely addresses the need to improve and strengthen agricultural and fisheries productivity, which, according to Fuentebella, is a significant factor that fuels the economy, contributing 35% to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). (by Kaylee San Jose)

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