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P13.4-B cash aid coming for 2.5M rice farmers

PRECIOUS GRAINS Farmer Irene Soriben uses a “saki” (rice shovel) to collect sundried palay (unhusked rice) at a rice drying facility in the village of Kita-Kita in Balungao, Pangasinan. The government says food producers, like rice and vegetable farmers, and workers in the agriculture industry, will be key in the country’s economic recovery after the pandemic. —RICHARD BALONGLONG

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has approved the release of a total of P13.4 billion in financial assistance to rice farmers to help sustain their productivity amid the El Niño phenomenon and other challenges faced by the agriculture sector, Malacañang said on Saturday.

In a statement, Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil said the President had ordered the release of P12.7 billion for the administration’s Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) program, and P700 million under the Household Crop Diversification Program (HCDP).

From excess collection

Under the RFFA, the government has identified about 2.3 million beneficiaries, mainly rice farmers listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) as of June 30 this year. Each beneficiary will receive P5,000 in financial assistance.

According to Garafil, the funds for this aid package was sourced from the “excess tariff collection” from rice importations in 2022, amounting to P12.7 billion.

“[This would] help them cope with the increasing cost of production and sustain their productivity even in the face of challenges like the coming El Niño [phenomenon],” the Palace media office quoted the President as saying.

The RFFA is an unconditional financial assistance program for farmers cultivating less than 2 hectares of land, Garafil said. It was instituted through Republic Act No. 11598, or the Cash Assistance to Filipino Farmers Act of 2021.

The beneficiaries include members of farming cooperatives and other organizations formed by irrigators, agrarian reform beneficiaries, and those who work for small water impounding systems, among others.

‘Palayamanan Plus’

Marcos also ordered the release of P700 million in excess tariff collections for the “Palayamanan Plus,” a conditional cash transfer scheme under the HCDP.

It aims to ensure that RSBSA-registered farmers, who are also enrolled in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, would “enjoy food, nutrition and income security,” Garafil said.About 78,000 Palayamanan Plus beneficiaries are expected to receive P10,000 each.

Last week, the President rejected proposals to temporarily reduce tariffs on rice imports to temper surging retail prices of the staple.

https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1839183/p13-4-b-cash-aid-coming-for-2-5m-rice-farmers QR Code

Published Date: October 1, 2023

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