Sariaya farmers first to receive cash assistance from RCEF

Author: DA Communications Group | 22 October 2021

The government has commenced the first in a series of distribution of cash assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund – Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RCEF-RFFA) in Sariaya, Quezon on October 21, 2021.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), in partnership with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and the Quezon Provincial Government conducted the first roll-out of the program alongside the inauguration of the Sariaya Agricultural Trading Center and Facilities (SATCF).

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar together with Quezon Province Representatives Wilfrido Mark M. Enverga (1st district) and David C. Suarez (2nd district), Governor Danilo E. Suarez, and Sariaya Mayor Marcelo P. Gayeta led the ceremonial turnover of Intervention Monitoring Card (IMC) to rice farmers.

The event was also attended by the DA officials from the Regional Field Office of CALABARZON and officials from DBP.

In 2019, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed the enactment of Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), which allows the allotment of P 10-billion (B) for the RCEF, annually.

Under the special provisions of the RCEF — the RFFA program will provide rice farmers, registered under the Registry Systems for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) tilling two-hectare and below — unconditional cash assistance amounting to P5,000. The fund comes from the excess rice tariff collected by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) from rice imports that fill the 10 percent shortfall of local production.

This year, BOC’s excess tariff collection reached P7.6B (P2.1B in 2019 and P5.4B in 2020).

Gusto ko ibahagi ang outcome ng RTL para kayo mismo na magsasaka ang magsasabi na ito ay successful,” Dar said.

In his keynote message, Dar shared the positive effect of RTL in agriculture particularly on average retail price of rice, buffer stocking of the National Food Authority (NFA) including its roll-out scheme on its palay procurement program, and its contribution to inflation.

“The average retail price of rice from its peak of P45/ kilo in 2018 to P38/kilo in 2019. There is a P7 decline in rice prices,” Dar said.

For buffer stocking, Dar stressed that with the current challenges of Covid-19 pandemic, he directed its policy officers to review the current study that NFA minimum of 300,000 metric tons buffer stocking.

“During this quarter, pina-finalize na namin iyong study at idagdag na iyong pandemya,” Dar said adding that this study will help them decide if NFA buffer stock should be increased.

Through RTL, the agri chief highlighted that the rice industry does not contribute to food inflation. He also added that since the implementation of RTL and even with the pandemic, the consumers will not line up just to buy cheaper rice. He said this proves that DA is able to sustain the supply of rice in Metro Manila.

“I would like to believe that this RTL, we are successful at mas magiging successful pa kung tuloy-tuloy pa sa susunod na anim na taon ang pamimigay ng makinarya, seeds, extension service at credit program,” Dar said.

Gusto natin pababain hanggang P6/ kilo ang cost of production. Meron tayo direksyon at target. Gusto natin na yayaman na rin ang ating magsasaka. Huwag kayo mawalan ng pag-asa. Under the leadership of President Duterte, sisimulan na natin ang pagtaas ng produksyon at simulan na ang pagtaas ng kita ng ating magsasaka,” he added.

To sustain the program and to help more farmers, Rep. Enverga said they are hopeful for the passage of a bill seeking to automatically provide the excess tariff as cash assistance to rice farmers until 2024, which was already approved in the Senate and Congress.

DA’s in partnership with SquidPay Technology will distribute the Intervention Monitoring Card (IMC) that will serve as farmer’s ID and cash card.

During the event, initial 100 farmer-beneficiaries received their IMC. For Sariaya, about 1,400 rice farmers will receive their RFFA.

DA will conduct a series of turnover of RFFA in various provinces in the country. The next distribution is scheduled on October 23, 2021 in Panabo, Davao del Norte ### (Kristel Joyce Merle, DA-AFID)

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