President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved the release of P12.7 billion worth of assistance to rice farmers to help keep their productivity despite the ongoing agricultural challenges in the country.
Under the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) program, the government selected 2.3 million small rice farmers beneficiaries who are in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also said Saturday the Marcos administration has not ruled out granting P15,000 in cash subsidy to farmers who will be severely affected by the El Niño phenomenon.
RFFA recipients are those listed in the farm cooperatives associations, irrigators associations, agrarian reform beneficiaries organizations, small water impounding systems associations, and other farm groups.
“This would help them cope with the increasing cost of production and sustain their productivity even in the face of challenges like the coming El Niño [phenomenon],” said Mr. Marcos, who is also the concurrent Agricultural chief.
According to the Palace, beneficiaries would receive P5,000 worth of financial assistance, which was sourced from the excess tariff collection from rice importations in 2022.
Moreover, the President approved the use of P700 million in collected excess tariff for the “Palayaman Plus,” a conditional cash transfer under the Household Crop Diversification Program.
Around 78,0000 beneficiaries of Palayaman Plus are expected to receive P10,000 each in cash assistance from the program.
These proposed cash aid packages support the Masagana Rice Industry Development Programs (MRIDP), the Palace said.
DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian said the agency is in talks with the Agriculture Department for other interventions after the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) payout of cash aid to micro rice retailers and sari-sari store owners selling rice.
The Social Welfare chief earlier announced the SLP payout for sari-sari store owners starting last Friday (September 29) following Malacanang’s imposition of a price cap on regular and well-milled rice through Executive Order No. 39.
Gatchalian said the DSWD can adopt the SLP payout mechanism similar to the subsidy for small and micro rice retailers.
The list of SLP beneficiaries was provided by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The DSWD chief said the DA will identify the SLP farmer-beneficiaries who will be most affected by the El Niño phenomenon.
In his previous message during a rice distribution effort, President Marcos assured the public that the government would strengthen its efforts to look for sustainable solutions to address the current agricultural issues in the country.
The government has also handed out thousands of sacks of rice, especially those from smuggled shipments, to poor families across the country.