OVER 4,770 small rice farmers in Negros Occidental have received about P23.86 million worth of cash assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA) through its Financial Subsidy to Rice Farmers (FSRF) program.
Engineer Jose Albert Barrogo, DA-Western Visayas team leader for Negros Occidental, told SunStar Bacolod that the amount covers qualified farmers from 17 localities in the province since the payout distribution started on May 18.
Barrogo said they form part of the 25,486 submitted registered farmers with a total allocation of almost P128 million.
"The total number of qualified farmers is actually beyond our initial target of 20,488 in Negros Occidental," he said, adding that the release of P5,000 for each of the farmers is through the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).
The subsidy is a sort of social amelioration intended to allay possible adverse effects of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis among small rice farmers.
Under the FSRF program, those who are qualified are those with farm areas of one hectare and below.
The DA has allocated P3 billion for the recipient-rice farmers in the country.
In Negros Occidental alone, the DA has already distributed the assistance to 330 farmers in Victorias City, 422 in Silay City, 502 in Sagay City, 43 in Bacolod City, 50 in Toboso, 50 in Pulupandan, 28 in Pontevedra, 214 in Talisay City, 90 in San Enrique, 783 in San Carlos City, 363 in Bago City, 65 in Murcia, 206 in Valladolid, 527 in Candoni, 326 Sipalay City, 88 Hinoba-an and 687 in Cadiz City.
Barrogo said there are still remaining farmers in these cities and towns as well as in other localities in the province who are yet to receive the P5,000 subsidy.
In fact, there is a scheduled distribution in Silay City, Calatrava and Manapla on May 26.
On May 27, distribution will be in La Castellana, Moises Padilla and La Carlota; May 28 - Ilog; May 29 - Cauayan; and May 30 - Kabankalan City and Himamaylan City.
Barrogo said there is no final schedule yet for the payout distribution in towns of Hinigaran, Isabela and Binalbagan.
"We target to fully distribute the subsidy in the province within this month, the latest is early part of June," he said, adding that recipient-farmers are reminded to bring necessary requirements when receiving their assistance. These include photocopy of their identification card (ID).
For those rice farmers who are not able to go to the venue of distribution, the LBP allows authorization letter with the ID of the authorized representative.
For the farmers affected by the lockdown in Metro Manila and other parts of the country, authorization and IDs of the recipient and his representative are also required.
Also, it should be attested by their respective City and Municipal Agriculture Offices, Barrogo added.
He earlier urged farmers to use such aid for their basic needs as well as farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers in preparation for the first cropping season.