(File Photo courtesy of Tenggoy Sarmiento)

Some 600,000 small farmers affected by the initial impact of the rice tariffication law, including those in Palawan, will receive P5,000 cash assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA) in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

This after the DA forged an agreement with LBP and DBP on December 16 that will disburse the P3 billion Rice Farmer Financial Assistance (RFFA) or unconditional cash transfer (UCT) to 600,000 rice farmers, whose farm size ranges from one-half hectare to two hectares.

“We understand the plight of our rice farmers, particularly the marginal ones who are experiencing the challenge of a liberalized rice trade. The RFFA is one way to help them cope with the tough competition they are facing in the market today,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar in a statement obtained by Palawan News (PN).

Previously, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a directive for the urgent implementation of the RFFA this year to cater to the most-affected small rice farmers.

The DA is tasked to lead the implementation of the RFFA in partnership with LBP and DBP that will each disburse P1.5 billion nationwide.

“To ensure that we efficiently do it, we meticulously crafted a guideline in selecting the first 33 rice-producing provinces and qualified farmers as beneficiaries. We conducted a comparative price analysis and considered the average marketable surplus and profit gains/losses in those provinces,” Dar added.

Under the program, farmers may receive the payment through a LandBank-issued cash card, or over-the-counter withdrawal from LBP and DBP conduits and accredited payout outlets.

RFFA forms part of the immediate interventions set up to cushion rice farmers from the birth pains of the RTL or R.A. 11203. The law provides for financial assistance for rice farmers to be sourced from the tariff collection of the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

The initial fund for RFFA, however, comes from the 2019 excess revenue of the national government. Another P3 billion will be allocated next year from the excess collection under RCEF.