DAVAO CITY — The Department of Agriculture in Davao Region (DA-11) has distributed PHP5,000 cash cards to some 1,803 rice farmers in various rice-growing municipalities in the area.
In a statement Friday, DA-11 said the cash assistance is a continuation of the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) distribution in partnership with the Landbank of the Philippines (LBP), which started in 2020 wherein 13,609 Davao rice farmer-beneficiaries already received their cash aid amounting to PHP68 million.
Identified farmer-beneficiaries are listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), who are tilling up to two-hectare rice farms and were affected by the low buying price of palay in 2019.
Engr. Ricardo M. Oñate, Jr., DA-11 director, said the assistance aims to cushion the impact of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis on the farmers.
“Unlike other crops, rice farming is both financial and labor-intensive as our farmers need to start new every planting season,” he said.
Evelyn Basa, DA-11 Rice Program senior agriculturist, clarified that RFFA is not a loan program but unconditional cash assistance for rice farmers to revive and support in paying for the agricultural inputs.
For this year, Basa said that DA-11 and LBP have released PHP9 million to 1,197 rice farmer-beneficiaries in Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental (442), Davao de Oro (113), and Davao del Sur (51).
“We are closely coordinating with other municipalities to fast-track the distribution to help our rice farmers this cropping season,” Basa said.
“While we want to fast track the distribution, we are also adhering to the quarantine protocol and closely coordinating with the LGUs to ensure everyone’s safety,” she added.
Oñate said another set of cash aid distributions would be launched at the end of the month, which will benefit more rice farmers across the region.
On top of the cash assistance, he said DA-11 is continuously distributed free high-quality rice seeds, fertilizers, and agri-machinery to rice farmers in the Davao region as one of its key strategies to transform Philippine agriculture, especially the rice industry, into a modern and industrialized sector. (PNA)