THE Department of Agrcilture (DA) is now finalizing the mechanics of the two forms of assistance to millions of small farmers and fisherfolk following the approval and adoption of a resolution by the committee chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar.
DA Secretary William Dar said that in succeeding months, small rice farmers will receive cash assistance from “excess rice tariffs” while the fisherfolk will get their share from Bayanihan 2 along with corn, coconut and sugar farmers and the indigenous peoples (IPs).
“We strongly support the favorable action of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, led by Senator Villar, that will benefit farmers adversely impacted by the depressed prices of palay this season,” Secretary Dar said during the 2020 World Food Day closing program.
Senate Joint Resolution No. 12 introduced by Senator 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).
According to Secretary Dar, the initial estimate of the excess rice tariffs in 2019 and this year may amount to P5 billion, which according to the 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, called Rice Farmers’ Financial Assistance (RFFA) and Financial Subsidy for Rice Farmers (FSRF).
To qualify, farmer-beneficiaries should be listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).
This time 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 to Recover as One Act or “Bayanihan 2”.
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.
“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 shut down of businesses due to the pandemic,” Secretary Dar said.