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DA to give 5k cash aid to rice farmers

QUEZON CITY -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), will give P5,000 cash assistance to small rice farmers most affected by the initial impact the Rice Tarrification Law (RTL).

The DA forged an agreement with the LBP and DBP on Dec. 16, 2019 that will disburse the P3-billion Rice Farmer Financial Assistance (RFFA) or unconditional cash transfer to 600,000 rice farmers, whose farm size ranges from one-half hectare to two hectares.

“We understand the plight of our rice farmers, particularly the marginal ones who are experiencing the challenge of a liberalized rice trade. The RFFA is one way to help them cope with the tough competition they are facing in the market today,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

In November, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a directive calling for an urgent implementation of the RFFA this year to cater to most- affected small rice farmers.

The DA is tasked to lead the implementation of the RFFA in partnership with LBP and DBP, which will each release P1.5 billion to 300,000 farmers nationwide.

“To ensure that we efficiently do it, we meticulously crafted a guideline in selecting the first 33 rice-producing provinces and qualified farmers as beneficiaries. We conducted a comparative price analysis and considered the average marketable surplus and profit gains/losses in those provinces,” Dar added.

Under the program, farmers may receive the payment through an LBP-issued cash card, or over-the-counter withdrawal from LBP and DBP conduits and accredited payout outlets.

RFFA forms part of the immediate interventions set up to cushion rice farmers from the birth pains of the RTL or R.A. 11203. The law provides for financial assistance for rice farmers to be sourced from the tariff collection of the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

The initial fund for RFFA, however, comes from the 2019 excess revenue of the national government. Another P3 billion will be allocated next year from the excess collection under RCEF. (DA Comms. Group/PIA-NCR)

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