125K farmers in Bicol get DA’s P646.6-M

By Connie Calipay


LEGAZPI CITY --- A total of 125,563 rice farmers in Camarines Norte, Albay, Catanduanes, and Sorsogon have each started to receive a P5,000 cash assistance from the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Bicol.


Lovella Guarin, DA Bicol information officer, in an interview on Monday said farmer-beneficiaries who are registered with the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) started getting the cash aid earlier this month.


For Albay, 30,307 rice farmers got a total of P156 million; in Camarines Norte, 8,431 rice farmers got P43.4 million; in Catanduanes, 5,778 rice farmers got P29.7 million, and in Sorsogon, 18,585 rice farmers got P95.7 million.


“The RFFA cash assistance is funded from the excess of the PHP10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) from the tariff revenues that the Philippines collected from the importation of rice every year. The P10 billion RCEF fund was created every year for six years since former President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act 11203 on February 14, 2019. The RFFA will continue until 2026,” Guarin said.


In a statement, DA Bicol Executive Director Rodel Tornilla said the department hopes that the cash assistance will help farmers.


“Apart from this cash assistance, DA Bicol continues to distribute various interventions to rice farmers such as hybrid and certified rice seeds, fertilizer discount vouchers, and technical assistance,” he said.


The DA also helps farmers of corn, high-value crops, and animal breeders; and distributes live animals, medicine, and biologics for animals such as pigs, chickens, cows, buffaloes, and goats.


The Development Bank of the Philippines and Universal Storefront Services Corporation are assisting the DA as service providers in the distribution of RSBSA-Interventions Monitoring Cards which also serve as cash cards for subsequent aid from the DA. (PNA)