The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will roll-out another P3-billion worth of direct cash assistance to rice farmers affected by the plunge in farm-gate prices next year.
The DA said the second round of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) would be targeted for rice farmers tilling 1.01 hectares up to 2 hectares of land.
The DA added that they would give P5,000 for every eligible farmer with a total of 600,000 farmers benefitting from the program.
The DA explained that next year’s CCT would be funded by the tariffs collected in excess of P10 billion from rice imports that entered the country from March 5 until December 31.
Under the rice trade liberalization law, the government could earmark rice tariffs exceeding P10 billion to other progams such as direct cash assistance.
In October, the DA announced that it would bankroll a P3-billion direct cash assistance program to about 600,000 rice farmers affected by the plunge of farm-gate prices before Christmas after it sidelined the imposition of safeguard duties due to inflationary impact.
The first cash assistance program would benefit 600,000 rice farmers planting in less than one hectare of land.
“We are looking at another P3 billion [cash assistance] for this coming year. A total of P6 billion coming from 2019 and 2020 will be given unconditional cash assistance,” Acting Agriculture Seccretary William D. Dar said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
Dar explained that the second round of cash assistance was approved during the last Cabinet meeting as earlier disclosed by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III in news reports.
Dar added that the DA is still finalizing the guidelines for both cash assistance programs with the hopes of implementing the first tranche before Christmas.
“We are in conducting the final stage of the guidelines,” he said.
Dar disclosed that DA will also have to iron out some concerns over the second round of cash assistance program.
“Another question to be asked: Will you only consider the msot affected provinces where palay prices are down? Or will you consider the 57 provinces where the [Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund] is being implemented? We will decide on that soon,” he said.
Furthermore, the DA appealed to rice farmers to “appreciate the whole environment” of the RTL law ahead of a nationwide protest set by various farmers group on Wednesday against the law that deregulated the country’s rice industry.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes