Marcos OKs release of P12.7 billion tariff aid for farmers

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos OKs release of P12.7 billion tariff aid for farmers
A farmer applies fertilizer to a rice field in Barangay Sumapang Matanda, Malolos, Bulacan on September 14, 2023.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos has approved the release of about P12.7 billion to help 2.3 million farmers cope with the challenges confronting the agriculture sector.

Marcos, who is also the agriculture secretary, ordered the release of the funding on Sept. 28 for the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance program, Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said yesterday.

The program is an unconditional financial assistance for farmers tilling below two hectares of land as mandated under the Cash Assistance to Filipino Farmers Act of 2021.

Under the program, the government identified small rice farmer-beneficiaries who are included in the registry system for basic sectors in agriculture as of June 30 this year.

Each beneficiary will be given P5,000 in financial aid, which came from the excess tariff collection from rice importations last year, amounting to about P12.7 billion.

“(This would) help them cope with the increasing cost of production and sustain their productivity even in the face of challenges like the coming El Niño,” Marcos was quoted by a Palace statement as saying.

The beneficiaries of the financial assistance program include farmers in farm cooperatives associations, irrigators associations, agrarian reform beneficiaries organizations, small water impounding systems associations and other farm groups.

Marcos has also approved the use of P700 million in excess tariff collections for the Palayamanan Plus, a conditional cash transfer under the household crop diversification program, Garafil said.

The move seeks to ensure that the farmers registered in the registry system for basic sectors in agriculture who are also covered by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) will benefit from food and nutrition and achieve income security.

The 4Ps, which is being implemented by the social welfare department, provides relief and government health services to low-income families who send their children to school.

Garafil said some 78,000 beneficiaries are expected to receive the Palayamanan Plus conditional cash transfer of P10,000 each.

The two proposed financial assistance packages support the administration’s Masagana Rice Industry Development Programs

The President issued the directives aimed at helping farmers as the government is dealing with the rising prices of rice.

To keep the food staple affordable to ordinary Filipinos, Marcos set price caps on regular milled and well-milled rice last month. The mandated price for regular milled rice is P41 per kilogram while the price ceiling on well-milled rice is P45 per kilogram. The administration has also provided P15,000 financial aid to small rice retailers and sari-sari store owners affected by the price caps.

The President has also led the distribution of thousands of sacks of rice to 4Ps beneficiaries in Tungawan, Zamboanga City; Brgy. San Roque, Zamboanga City; Brgy. Santiago, General Trias, Cavite; Iriga City, Camarines Sur and San Andres in Manila.

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