DSWD to give rice aid to fishers, farmers in SW Mindanao

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/02 May) – Poor fisher folk and farmers numbering 169,827 from various parts of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao are set to receive rice subsidies as part of the national government’s interventions against the worsening impact of the continuing oil price increases in the country.

Bai Zorahayda Taha, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Region 12 director, said Monday the move was mainly aimed at minimizing the effects of the increases in oil prices, which has triggered drastic movements in the prices of some basic goods as well as public transportation fares.

“This is among the short-term interventions that the national government has initiated to help our poor residents breeze through the present situation,” she said.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Kidapawan, Cotabato and Tacurong.

Taha said the rice subsidy program will cover some 4,789 residents from Cotabato City, 70,382 in North Cotabato, 25,148 in Sarangani, 25,124 in South Cotabato and 44,384 in Sultan Kudarat.

Faisal Usman, DSWD-12’s focal person on the rice subsidy program, said the initiative will be implemented through a “cash for training or work” scheme.

“It will provide temporary employment to small-scale farmers, fisher folk and their families who were distressed, displaced or in need of assistance during the lean season,” he said in a statement.

Usman said the beneficiaries will receive the rice subsidies in exchange for their participation in disaster preparedness, mitigation, relief, rehabilitation, risk reduction projects and activities within their communities.

He said the scheme also covers beneficiaries who are currently staying in various evacuation centers in the area.

Usman said the program supports projects that would enhance food production such as farm preparation, construction and repair of shallow wells and irrigation canals.

“The assistance for the beneficiaries will be provided in three cycles, with one cycle per month at the rate of P184 per beneficiary or a total of P2,024 for 11 days,” he explained.

The program’s first cycle is set on July while the second and third cycles will cover the succeeding months, he said.

Usman said the beneficiaries are required to attend four-day trainings during each of the three cycles.

The assistance shall be provided at the end of each activity for three consecutive months, he said.

Usman said the projects and work areas would be identified by the community-beneficiaries through assistance from local government officials.

“DSWD-12 will ensure that at least 50 percent of the cash assistance that will be provided to the beneficiaries would be utilized for the purchase of rice and other food items in the local market to also help boost the local economy,” he said.

He added that provincial, city and municipal social welfare offices of areas covered by the program will be tasked to maintain a logbook to document the daily attendance of the beneficiaries in their assigned works or projects. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)