Iloilo farmers welcome loan aid as ‘palay’ prices plunge

Farmers in Iloilo province are reeling from the impact of the Rice Tariffication Law. To ease their woes, the government has offered a one-time, zero interest loan program. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN
Farmers in Iloilo province are reeling from the impact of the Rice Tariffication Law. To ease their woes, the government has offered a one-time, zero interest loan program. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO – The government’s Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers (SURE Aid) can be of big help to farmers who are now reeling from the impact of the Rice Tariffication Law, a local government agriculturist here said.

Lambunao Municipal Agriculturist Richard Catedral said Wednesday that monthly, the town’s agricultural technicians meet with farmers’ cooperative and federation, and one of the concerns always raised is the low buying price of palay and the high cost of farm input.

Under the SURE Aid, rice farmers who are tilling a hectare of rice land or less can avail of the one-time, zero interest loan program of P15,000, payable up to eight years.

If the loan program goes full swing, more or less 4,000 of the 6,000 rice farmers in Lambunao are eligible to avail.

“We will have an orientation about the loan program this Friday,” he confirmed.

He said that within the week, the local government unit will start buying the palay produce of rice farmers in Lambunao. He said the Sangguniang Bayan has approved a P1.6-million budget intended for the program.

“Our mayor is planning to buy their product similar to the buying price of NFA,” he said. If farmers will rely on traders, then the latter will just freely decide on the buying price of palay, he added.

In the past weeks, the farm gate price of freshly harvested palay was at P8 per kilo and between

P9 to 10 per kilo when brought to traders in the poblacion. This week, the buying price for freshly harvested palay was at P13 a kilo.

While the buying price of palay is low, yet the price of rice is still around P2,000 per bag or equivalent to 50 kilos.

Nancy Lastimoso, 64, a farmer from Barangay Maite Grande, Lambunao said that they welcome any intervention from the government. She has been into farming for more than 40 years and she lamented the low buying price of palay.

She has less than a hectare of rice land, which during the favorable condition, produces around 30 to 35 sacks for every cropping. However, if the weather condition is not good, her produce could not even reach 15 sacks in one cropping.

Currently, her palay is already on its vegetative stage but already she has spent more than P10,000 starting from land preparation and other farm inputs.

David Evasco, 62, of Barangay Tranghawan, Lambunao, expressed his difficulty being a farmer for more than 40 years.

The more than two-hectare rice land that he tills can produce up to 150 sacks of palay during good weather but could not even reach 30 sacks when the weather is unfavorable.

From land preparation and farm implements, he spends around P20,000. Good for him because he has his hand tractor so he no longer has to pay for labor.

He said that engaging in farming nowadays is very expensive. He lamented that when he sells his produce, the traders only priced his palay between P10 to 14 per kilo.

The rice farmer said that if the buying price of palay will increase, then it is going to be a welcome development.

Around 12,000 hectares of the land area of the municipality are considered agricultural area. Some 50 percent of the agricultural lands are utilized for rice farming. (With a report from PNA/PN)

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