Farmers, fisherfolks to receive cash assistance

SMALL rice farmers will receive cash assistance from the excess money collected from rice tariffs while fisherfolk, corn, coconut and sugar farmers, as well as indigenous peoples will receive cash and food assistance from Bayanihan 2 in the coming months, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

The DA is finalizing the mechanics of the two forms of assistance to millions of small farmers and fisherfolk.

“We strongly support the favorable action of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food led by Sen. Cynthia Villar that will benefit farmers adversely impacted by the depressed prices of palay this season,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said during the 2020 World Food Day closing program.

The Senate Joint Resolution 12 introduced by Villar authorizes the use of the tariffs on imported rice in excess of P10 billion collected by the Bureau of Customs for 2020 under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado said they are still waiting for the guidelines of the assistance.

Last June, the DA 7 released P238.5 million in financial cash assistance to 47,682 rice farmers of Bohol and Negros Oriental.

The financial assistance, which was coursed through the Financial Subsidy for Rice Farmers (FSRF), was released through the Land Bank of the Philippines. Each farmers received P5,000 each.

FSRF is a DA-initiated program that assists small rice farmers who were affected by the RTL and were not covered by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA).

P5B excess rice tariffs

Dar said the initial estimate of the excess rice tariffs in 2019 and this year may amount to P5 billion, which as per joint Senate resolution, will be used as cash assistance worth P5,000 to benefit small rice farmers, tilling one hectare or less.

The proposed measure is similar to the previous legislated cash aid—RFFA and FSRF.

To qualify, farmer-beneficiaries should be listed in the registry system for basic sectors in agriculture.

Other non-rice farmers — that include corn, coconut, sugar farmers, marginal fisherfolk, and IPs — will also receive P5,000 worth of cash and food assistance under the DA’s P4.5 billion budget allocation under the Bayanihan 2 law.

The DA chief said of the P5,000 assistance, P3,000 will be in cash, while the P2,000 will be in kind, at P1,000 for rice and the other P1,000 for chicken and eggs.

Based on the DA’s initial program mechanics, the rice, chicken and eggs can be withdrawn by the beneficiaries using an e-voucher system. Qualified recipients will be issued an ID-cum-voucher.

“Through this mechanism, we are lifting once again our local rice industry that has been affected by the decline in palay prices, and poultry raisers who were affected by a glut due to the shutdown of businesses due to the pandemic,” Dar said.

The RTL allots P10 billion in tariff revenues from rice imports for the RCEF. Excess collections, if any, are allocated for other national programs such as the RFFA and FSRF, titling of rice lands, expanded crop insurance on rice and crop diversification.

Under the Senate joint resolution, it is proposed that all excess collections until Dec. 30, 2020, shall be given to the DA for the RFFA implementation. This will help rice farmers during the RTL transition and cushion them from the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. / JOB WITH PR


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