ILOILO CITY – A total of 272,134 farmers with landholdings of not more than two hectares in Western Visayas region are expected to benefit from the PHP1.36 billion Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) allocation under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund as mandated in the Rice Tariffication Law.
Agriculture Regional Executive Director for Western Visayas Engr. Jose Albert Barrogo, in an interview on Tuesday, said the distribution already commenced in Iloilo on Monday, particularly in the province’s second district where 9,861 rice farmers were identified as target recipients.
The district has an allocation of PHP49.30 million for the assistance, with each recipient getting PHP5,000 through the Development Bank of the Philippines.
The fund allocation came from the surplus of the PHP10-billion import tariffs in 2022.
“What is good with our 2022 surplus fund is that it will already cover all farmers with farms two hectares and below based on our initial report. There won’t be first or second priorities,” he said, adding that they have to be enrolled in the DA’s Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) to qualify.
The Department of Agriculture decided to hold the payout first in the second district because the eligible farmers in the area have not received any financial assistance under the RFFA or from the Financial Subsidy for Rice Farmers.
The payout was conducted for 2,500 farmers in the municipality of Leon on Tuesday following Monday’s release in the town of Alimodian for 2,253 recipients.
An additional payout for 1,645 farmers of Leon and 856 from San Miguel will be conducted on May 17, while 619 farmers from New Lucena, 373 from Sta. Barbara and 316 from Pavia will receive their assistance on May 18.
On May 19, the cash aid will be released to 752 farmers from Zarraga and 547 from the municipality of Leganes.
“We have to complete this within this quarter. After that other districts will already follow,” he added.
Aside from Iloilo farmers, the distribution will also prioritize rice farmers from Negros Occidental who have yet to avail of the assistance.
Farmers who qualified to avail of the assistance will be informed through their municipal agriculture office. (PNA)