THE Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) is strengthening and expanding its crop insurance in the country by enrolling more farmers and products under its coverage.

PCIC president Jovy Bernabe announced this during the inauguration and blessing of the company's regional office at the Department of Agriculture compound in Iloilo City on August 12.

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Bernabe said a proposed P10-billion capitalization next year will set off the expanded coverage from its P2 billion in 2009 to cover P3 billion for rice and corn and P2 billion for other crops, including livestock for 100,000 farmers. Insurance high value crops and fruits are also covered.

The insurance coverage will cover all crop production destroyed by natural calamities including plant pests and diseases, and index-based insurance that covers rainfall patterns with a government-subsidized premium of 60 percent and another 40 percent to be paid by farmers.

In Western Visayas, PCIC performance showed a total of P134-million insured, covering P48 million for 265 hectares by 7,000 farmers with five hectares or less. The region is projected to increase production by 10 percent, but rampant natural calamities will greatly affect crop production, Bernabe said.

PCIC also paid P1.9 million to farmers in the region whose crops were destroyed by Typhoon Frank in 2008. Similarly, P1.5 million was paid to Igbaras, Iloilo farmers under PCIC's fire accident insurance coverage.

Bernabe said the PCIC remains steadfast with its mission to serve the insurance needs of farmers under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

An attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, the PCIC is under the Salary Standardization Law and there is no proposal so far for its abolition, as it is the only government body that insured the crops of farmers. (LCP)