Around 46,000 farmers from the province of Iloilo are among the 600,000 expected to benefit from the PHP3 billion unconditional cash transfer (UCT) program of the national government that aims to help stakeholders affected by the drop in the prices of palay.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Andrew B. Villacorta, in a press conference Monday on the sidelines of the National Rice Industry Stakeholders Conference held in this city, said the PHP3 billion is just the first tranche because they are looking at PHP6-billion financial assistance.
“This is intended for most affected rice farmers in 33 provinces. It was a study conducted by DA (Department of Agriculture) and at the same time was also studied by the DOF (Department of Finance). The other tranche of PHP3 billion will be given next year,” he added.
Engr. Roy M. Abaya of the Agriculture Field Programs Operational Planning Division said the fund for the unconditional cash transfer program will come from the national government and not from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF). “We are just finalizing the guidelines,” he added.
DA targets to launch the program next month. Once there is an excess tariff, it will already become a regular program.
To avail of the assistance, farmers should be registered with the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA). Updating of the RSBSA is currently ongoing. They just have to visit their respective local government unit offices.
Each farmer tilling one half to two hectares of rice field stands to receive PHP5,000.
Meanwhile, Villacorta added the government has a PHP2.5 billion fund under the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers (SURE Aid). It is extended as loan assistance to farmers tilling farmlands that are one hectare and below.
Each farmer can loan PHP15,000, payable in eight years with no interest.
The department has identified 166,000 farmers qualified to benefit from the loan program. Around 50,000 loans have been released.
Applications of more than 100,000 are being processed and expected to be released before the year ends. (Perla Lena ndb via pna)