The Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC) has approved an additional P1-billion fund infusion for the recovery assistance program for rice farmers affected by declining palay prices.
“Today we approved additional P1 billion to support the SURE Aid program,” Agriculture secretary William Dar said in a press briefing in Manila on Friday.
The SURE Aid or Survival and Recovery Assistance Program provides a one-time loan assistance of P15,000 to rice farmers cultivating one hectare or less at zero percent interest and payable in eight years.
Dar said the P1.5 billion earmarked for the loan assistance program is not enough as it can only accommodate 100,000 rice farmers out of 600,000 who till one hectare and below.
With the additional fund infusion, the SURE Aid program now stands at P2.5 billion.
“In effect, we will now be able to give loan assistance to almost 170,000 farmers,” the Agriculture chief said.
minus 600,000 marami pa rin tayong dapat tulungan,” Dar said, noting that the DA will look for other sources of funds to cover all the small farmers.
SURE Aid is affordable financial assistance for small rice farmers—all they need is to set aside P1,875 per year to pay off their loan.
LandBank is administering the P2.5-billion fund from the DA-ACPC by releasing the loans either through direct lending to farmers or through service conduits in unbanked and unserved areas.
The DA-ACPC, on the other hand, will provide the LandBank with the validated list of farmers eligible for the loan assistance as well as the list of DA-identified service conduits.
The farmgate price of palay has plunged to as low as P7 per kilo after rice tariffication was implemented earlier this year, prompting farmers to ask for government intervention.
The Rice Tariffication law removed the quantitative restrictions on rice and imposed a 35 percent tariff on imports from Southeast Asian neighbors.
The law created a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) amounting to P10 billion, as safety net for local farmers. The fund is supposed to equip farmers with better tools, seeds, and other interventions to improve productivity.
Dar clarified that the funding for SURE Aid is sourced from the DA-ACPC’s funds, not from the RCEF. (GMA News)