Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez agreed over the weekend on the implementation of an assistance program to help rice farmers adjust to low prices of palay following the passage of the rice tariffication law.
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DA, DOF to implement assistance for farmers
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - August 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The agriculture and finance departments have agreed to implement cash assistance to rice farmers to help ease the impacts of the drop in palay prices due to liberalization.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez agreed over the weekend on the implementation of an assistance program to help rice farmers adjust to low prices of palay following the passage of the rice tariffication law.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority indicate that farmgate prices have gone down by 23 percent or by P5.30 per kilogram to P17.85 from their peak in September 2018 at P23.15.

Farmers’ group say palay prices have droped to as low as P12.50 per kilo.

The prices may further drop during the coming main harvest season next month.

The program entails an unconditional cash assistance that will be allocated and distributed to RTL-affected farmers by expanding the ongoing Survival and Recovery (SURE) program of DA-attached agency Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC).

The expansion of SURE to assist rice farmers will build experience from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

It is in addition to the programs and projects mandated under the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which is the annual P10-billion fund established under the law to be sourced from the Bureau of Custom’s collection of tariffs on rice imports.

 “This unconditional cash assistance program is meant to help cushion the initial impact of lower palay prices on our farmers as they transition to the new rice tariffication regime,” Dominguez said.

 “For the long haul, the RCEF will help sharpen the global competitiveness of our farmers by way of an array of programs providing them with access to farm machinery and equipment, high-yield seeds, cheap credit and skills training programs on farm mechanization and modern farming techniques,” he added.

The government is expecting that tariff revenues from rice imports this year would likely exceed P10 billion, a development that will assure full funding of the RCEF. The annual tariff revenues in excess of P10 billion will enable further adjustment assistance for rice farmers for the remainder of the Duterte administration.

Dar, who chairs the ACPC, will convene the council soonest to get the SURE assistance started right away. Dominguez is also a member of the council.

DA DOF FARMERS
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