The Land Bank of the Philippines, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, has disbursed a total of P7.5 billion in loans and cash grants to some 962,126 rice farmers as of Aril by virtue of the Rice Tariffication Law.
Of the total amount, P1.03 billion in cumulative loans were extended to 6,218 eligible borrowers through the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF).
Available until 2024, LandBank will lend up to P500 million in credit assistance annually under ERCA-RCEF to rice farmers in 38 rice-producing provinces at affordable interest rates, with minimum documentary requirements.
The bank has also released a total of P2.52 billion in loans to 165,963 small rice farmers through the Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE Aid) Lending Program, providing immediate credit assistance of P15,000 per borrower with zero interest and no collateral to rice farmers who are tilling one hectare of land and below.
Meanwhile, under the DA’s Rice Farmer Financial Assistance (RFFA) Program, a total of 253,826 farmers were provided cash assistance amounting to P1.27 billion. The RFFA is a P3 billion unconditional cash transfer program which aims to give P5,000 financial assistance each to rice farmers who are tilling 0.5 to 2 hectares of land.
Land Bank also released a total of P2.68 billion in cash grants to 536,119 farmer-beneficiaries under the DA’s Financial Subsidy to Rice Farmers (FSRF) Program. Through the FSRF, small rice farmers tiling one hectare or less who are not covered under the RFFA Program are provided a P5,000 cash subsidy to augment their production needs.
Earlier, Senator Francis Pangilinan warned that lowering rice tariffs through Executive Order No. 135 will further burden Filipino farmers
“Our farmers will bear the brunt of this order. They are already hard-pressed as it is with the non-stop arrival of imported rice and the pandemi,” Pangilinan said.
EO 135 lowers rice tariffs from 50 and 40 percent for in-quota and out-quota respectively to 35 percent for imports coming from so-called Most Favored Nations, particularly, India, Pakistan, and China.
Pangilinan said he found it odd that the government is slashing rice tariff when economic managers have assured the public of a steady supply of rice in recent hearings at the Senate.
He said rice farmers groups have been calling him up to seek his intervention on the executive action.