P822M assistance readied for farmers

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    The Department of Agriculture (DA) said P822 million assistance will be made available to farmers and fisher folk affected by Typhoon Maring which has caused P980-million in crop damage.

    This developed as the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said the cash aid to be given to farmers due to the decline in palay caused by the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) is not enough to cover their losses.

    The DA in a statement said of the P822 million, P650 million is allotted for the provision of emergency loans to affected farmers and fishers under the SURE Calamity Loan Assistance Program through the DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council where each affected household can borrow P20,000, at zero interest, no collateral and payable in ten years.

    Aside from the agricultural loan, the DA allotted P172 million under its quick response fund for the rehabilitation of affected areas in Ilocos, Cagayan and Cordillera.

    DA said these interventions are on top of the regular assistance provided to farmers and fishers affected by typhoons and other natural calamities which include close to 169,000 bags of certified rice seeds; 16,600 bags of certified corn seeds; 1,480 kilograms of assorted vegetable seeds; drugs and biologics for livestock and poultry; as well as indemnification from the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp.

    Meanwhile, FFF said it welcomes the P5,000 cash assistance from RTL to each of the 1.56 million farmers tilling two hectares and below will only recover 15 percent of the P56 billion losses between 2019 and 2020.

    “Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority indicate that palay prices fell by an average of P1.80 per kilogram (kg) compared to pre-RTL levels in 2017. This translates to a drop in income of P15,000 per hectare on an annual basis,” said Raul Montemayor, FFF national manager, in a statement.

    Funding for the P5,000 cash assistance totalling to P7.7 billion will come from excess tariff collections on rice imports. Under the RTL, tariff revenues exceeding the P10 billion a year will be appropriated by Congress for additional support programs for rice farmers.

    FFF said farmers are forced to sell their crops for as low as P14 per kg for clean and dry as only those who can dry, store and transport their harvests can enjoy the National Food Authority’s buying price of P19 per kg.

    FFF acknowledged the current decline in prices is seasonal which coincides with the main harvest period. But it noted the drop was also worsened by the entry of imports and the decline in global rice prices.

    FFF added rice farmers are also affected with the increase in fertilizer and transportation costs.