GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has allotted P157 million for the cash subsidy to farmers in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund-Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RCEF-RFFA) program.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said on Wednesday they have started the release of the P5,000 unconditional cash assistance, which will cover 31,000 rice farmers in the region’s four provinces and four cities.
He led on Tuesday afternoon the ceremonial launching of its rollout in Soccsksargen in a visit to Tantangan town, South Cotabato province.
Dar said the program mainly benefits smallholder rice farmers or those who are tilling farms with an area of two hectares and below.
“This is intended to assist rice farmers who are most badly affected [by the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law],” he said in a press conference here.
The RFFA was launched by the government to provide compensation for the projected income loss of rice farmers due to the drop in palay prices, which reached as low as P13 a kilo in the region in the past weeks.
The beneficiaries, who will receive the assistance through Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines cash cards, are those listed under the registry system for basic sectors in agriculture.
The national government has allotted P7.6 billion from the excess rice tariffs in 2019 and 2020 to assist 1.5 million farmers in the country.
Dennis Arpia, DA-Region 12 executive director, said they are currently processing the release of the cash assistance to farmers in other parts of the region.
He said they have scheduled the distribution in the coming weeks to all municipalities and provinces in the area.
“We’re targeting to complete the distribution before the end of the year,” he said.
In this city, the assistance program will benefit a total of 340 registered rice farmers and with combined grants amounting to P1.5 million.
The agency said it has allotted P65 million for the ongoing rollout in South Cotabato, which will cover 13,014 rice farmers.
Dar, who is on a two-day swing in Region 12, also led the turnover in Tantangan town of P57.8 million in loan assistance approved by the Agricultural Credit Policy Council to qualified farmers’ groups and various farm machinery.
He personally handed over here on Tuesday night various supplies and equipment to improve the veterinary diagnostics in Region 12 in line with the fight against African Swine Fever.
On Wednesday morning, Dar graced the turnover of five completed farm-to-market road projects situated in barangays of San Jose, Upper Labay, Mabuhay, Katangawan, and Tinagacan here.
The road projects, which have a combined length of three kilometers, are worth P44 million. (MindaNews)