Press Release
March 4, 2020

Villar: Farmers received over P100 billion worth of assistance during transition to rice tariffication

On top of the P10 billion- Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), additional funds totaling more than P100 billion were released to aid farmers during the transition to rice tariffication. Sen. Cynthia Villar made this observation a year after the enactment of Republic Act 11203 or the rice tariffication law.

"Last year, farmers started to receive the benefits of the law through seed distribution, credit and extension programs. Soon, farm machineries will be distributed to rice-producing towns under the law's mechanization program," Villar said.

Villar said the distribution of farm machineries was delayed last year because of the change of leadership in the Department of Agriculture from Emmanuel Piñol to William Dar but SARO-BMB-E-20-001084 was already received for the amount of P5 billion.

Aside from the P10 billion RCEF, Land bank and the DA Agricultural Credit Policy Council implemented the P4.8 billion Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program or SURE AID which provided a one-time loan assistance of P15,000 at 0% interest for eight years. This program helped rice farmers with farms measuring one hectare and below whose income were affected by the drop in the farm gate price of palay.

Also for the benefit of small hold farmers, a P3 billion unconditional cash assistance was implemented. The program was funded by the Department of Finance and provided P5,000 each to 600,000 farmers owning one hectare and below.

In order to ensure that the palay produce of local farmers will be bought at a reasonable price, P7 billion was allocated under the National Food Authority to procure palay from local farmers. The P31 billion budget for rice subsidy under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program was also used to procure rice from local farmers and distributed to beneficiary households.

Farmers also received assistance under the P7 billion National Rice Program which included provision for hybrid seeds, fertilizer for inbred seeds, irrigation support and rehabilitation and improvement of small scale irrigation projects; agriculture, machineries, equipment and facilities support services; extension services; and research and development.

Assistance to farmers was also funded in the National Irrigation Administration worth P36 billion; P1 billion allocation to the PhilMech/PhilRice; and Farm to Market Roads worth P9.9 billion.

Villar said improvement of our country's credit rating was also attributed to the enactment of the law which allowed us to save about P35 billion in interest payments of our government's loans from other countries.

"Improving farmer's competitiveness is not something that we can do overnight.These programs were rolled out to provide a ready market for local rice and deter unscrupulous traders from taking advantage of our farmers in the initial phase of its implementation," Villar said.

Villar said once fully implemented, mechanization will bring down the cost of labor of palay production from P4.60/kg to P1.20/kg. The inbred seeds will increase the harvest from 4 MT/hectare to 6 MT/hectare thereby doubling the farmers' income.

For year 2019 to 2024, RA 11203 provides for the allocation of P5 billion for the procurement of rice farm equipment to be given out to 947 rice producing towns in the Philippines at the rate of P5 million per town. This includes tractors, tillers, planters, seeders, harvesters, threshers, drying and milling to be implemented by PhilMech.

P3 billion was alloted for the distribution and production of inbred seeds at the rate of 20 kgs/ hectare every planting season to be implemented by the Philippine Rice Institute. P1 billion will go to cheap credit with a 2% interest per year to be implemented by the Land Bank and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

P 1 billion will be used to fund training programs to be implemented by the Agriculture Training Institute, Philmech, PhilRice at P100 million each per year, and the Technical Skills Development Authority at P700 million per year through the farm schools.

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