RICE and vegetable farmers in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) who have been affected by the recent typhoon received interventions amounting to P556,345,158 funded by the government through the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Agriculture Secretary William Dar led the OneDA family in the awarding of assistance during the launch of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund-Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RCEF-RFFA) Program in Baguio City on October 28, 2021.
“The Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) is one of the best reforms that have happened today. The bottom line of RTL that also provides RCEF is to make the rice farmers very competitive para puwede tayong makipagtunggali sa rice farmers sa iba’t ibang bansa,” Dar said, adding that the cost of palay production will be at the level of P7 per kilogram at the end of the six-year implementation period.
Through the RFFA, rice farmers enrolled in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) with landholdings of two hectares and below will receive unconditional cash assistance worth P5,000.
The program will benefit 65,836 Cordillera rice farmers with a total cash assistance amounting to P329.18 million.
In partnership with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and SquidPay Technology Inc., the DA-CAR Field Office will start distributing to the beneficiaries the Interventions Monitoring Card (IMC) that serves as an identification card and cash card.
Dar also mentioned other salient interventions that must be further funded and supported to make local farmers more competitive, such as drying facilities and other post-harvest facilities, use of biofertilizers and biopesticides, and mass labeling of vegetables and fruits for food safety.
“Let’s make our vegetable production more efficient. Let’s lessen the cost of producing a kilo of any vegetables. That’s the only way for the long term we can be competitive with the rest of the world,” he said.
On the issue of smuggled vegetables, the agri chief said that last October, the DA, in cooperation with the Bureau of Customs, confiscated almost half a million pesos worth of vegetables and fruits.
“Gumagalaw po ang inyong gobyerno, hindi po kami natutulog. Let’s help one another. Yes, you should be a part in really identifying those illegal shippers,” he added.
During the event, Dar also awarded check and cash assistance for the calamity-affected farmers and fisherfolk in the region.
The DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) approved a credit fund amounting to P10 million for the Lengaoan Indigenous Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative as lending conduit under the Expanded Sure Aid and Recovery Project. Small farmers and fishers may avail themselves of P20,000 interest-free loans without collateral and payable for 10 years through the Sure Program.
Additional assistance amounting to P135 million from the Quick Response Fund has been allotted for the region’s rehabilitation and recovery program to benefit the farmers and fisherfolk severely affected by Habagat and Typhoon Maring.
Polyethylene plastic sheets and various vegetable seeds worth P1,285,750 were also distributed as initial assistance under the region’s recovery program.
“Hindi po nagpapabaya ang gobyerno na tumutulong at nakahandang sumuporta sa lahat ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” Dar said.
The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), meanwhile, paid P3,165,821 for the indemnity and claims for rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock, and credit and life term insurance.
Other interventions awarded during Dar’s visit in CAR were: 50 units of aquaponics system worth P2.75 million from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), eight hauling trucks and two refrigerated vans amounting to P21.44 million from the banner programs of DA-CAR, and P22 million worth truck-mounted water well drilling rig and support equipment.
Dar highlighted the importance of collective action and urged farmers to join cooperatives that are active both in the production and marketing of commodities and eventually in value-adding activities.
He stressed that farm clustering and cooperative development are important for higher efficiencies in operations and improved profits.
The Modernized Greenhouse with Hydroponics Project worth P950,000, four units twin tunnel greenhouse for strawberry enterprise worth P950,000, and P7,879,263 worth farm-to-market road were also turned over for the farmers in Tuba, Benguet, and Sto. Tomas, Baguio City.
“We have to plan and invest early in this protective and precision agriculture that is the way forward to continuously produce vegetables,” Dar said.
He emphasized the importance of modern and climate-resilient agriculture infrastructure both in rural and urban areas for the unhampered production of enough vegetables.
He also inaugurated the research and development facilities of the DA-CAR Technology Resource Hub amounting to P9,738,672 for the food processing facility and P12,005,650 for the plant genetic resources center funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research. (PR)