DA launches interest-free loan program for rice farmers

Marje Pelayo   •   September 2, 2019   •   997

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) officially launched the agency’s expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance for Rice Farmers (SURE AID Program) on Monday (September 2).

The program, organized by the DA-Agricultural and Credit Policy Council and Land Bank of the Philippines, provides rice farmers loan opportunities through a simplified application process.

“Dito ay simplified na ang (we have simplified the) loan application,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar during the launching of the program in Zaragosa, Nueva Ecija.

“Basta rehistrado, andyan lahat ng magrerecommend at may approval na, in three hours release [na ang loan] (As long as [the farmer] is registered, all recommendations are in place and approval has been secured, the loaned cash will be released in three hours time),” he added.

The loan program is the DA’s way of helping rice farmers who are suffering from the flooding of rice imports as a result of the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law which forced the plunging of palay’s selling price to P7/kg from the previous P21/kg.

Dar said the loan program covers farmers tilling farmland one hectare and below.

Qualified applicants may avail of P15,000 cash assistance payable in eight years with no interest and no collateral needed.

Secretary Dar assured that while the SURE Aid provides only a short-term solution, the DA is confident that the farm gate price will return to its reasonable amount during normal harvest time.

“Before the main harvest comes, in place na lahat ang measures, at doon na sa respectable prices na (all measures are in place, it will be back to respectable prices),” Dar said.

“In Nueva Ecija, Isabela and the rest, we’ll buy wet palay at P15/kg, hindi na (and no longer) P10/kh or P12/kg. So may ganansya na iyan sa magsasaka (They already have profit with that amount). Ang cost of producing one kilo of palay dito sa bansa ay P12 (The production cost of one kilogram of palay in the country is P12). Mayroon na silang P3/kg (They earn P3/kg). Kung ma-dry pa nila iyan, pupunta sa P17/kg (If they are able to dry their yield, they can earn higher up to P17/kg),” Secretary Dar concluded.

DA relaxes conditions for insured ASF-affected hog raisers

Marje Pelayo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (DA-PCIC) has relaxed conditions for paying hog raisers for their losses under its insurance program for hogs.

This is in support of the Duterte government’s initiative to revitalize hog production amid the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic.

During its regular meeting on Wednesday (February 24), the PCIC Board of Directors approved the DA proposal to pay losses resulting from government-ordered culling or slaughter of insured hogs.

Likewise, the Board agrees to raise the payable amount up to 100 percent of the insurance cover or the total sum insured.

The move is expected to help encourage the raising of over 10 million heads of swine among commercial and backyard raisers. 

The stocks to be insured will be a mix of fatteners and breeders, including grandparent stock, among the commercial raisers; and fatteners and breeders, among the backyard raisers.

Backyard hog raisers currently receive free insurance, provided they are listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), the country’s database of bona fide subsistence farmers and fisherfolk. But they will be covered by the relaxed provision on indemnity payment and culling or emergency slaughter, the DA further said.

Moreover, the Board directed the PCIC to increase the number of backyard hog raisers to be provided insurance coverage, it added.

The agriculture department guarantees that these enhanced insurance policy features for the swine industry will remain in place until such time that the industry shall have stabilized or a vaccine or other veterinary solutions will have been developed for ASF.

Consistent with the DA policy, the PCIC will require commercial and backyard raisers to adhere to prescribed biosafety protocols, such as cleaning, disinfecting, and training in biosafety measures.

This protocol is contained in the DA Administrative Order No. 6, issued on February 6, 2021, entitled “Guidelines on the Implementation of the Recovery, Rehabilitation and Repopulation Assistance Program for ASF-affected and Non-ASF Affected Areas.”

Hontiveros urges DA to focus on ramping up efforts vs ASF instead of price caps

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Risa Hontiveros has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to focus its efforts on preventing the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) instead of imposing price ceilings.

“The government should instead channel its efforts to bring credibility to testing, reporting, and responding to local outbreaks, among others. Hindi na nakakatulong ang ipinataw nilang price control (imposing price control is not helping), so let’s look deeper than the surface,” the senator said.

Hontiveros noted that the DA is already boosting local hog supply by distributing mother pigs and feeds to ASF-cleared areas, however, hog raisers still fear subsequent waves of infection.

Instead of repopulation plans, Hontiveros said the DA should also teach hog raisers preventive measures to protect livestock from ASF. She added that the price cap is making it almost impossible for vendors to recover from the “twindemic” of COVID-19 and ASF.

“Nakararanas tayo ng ‘Twindemic’ —pandemya ng COVID-19 at epidemya ng ASF. Kambal din ang dagok sa ating magbababoy na nalubog pa dahil sa itinakdang price ceiling (We are experiencing a ‘Twindemic’—COVID-19 pandemic and the ASF epidemic. Our hog raisers are also experiencing twin challenges due to the price ceiling),” the senator said.

Hontiveros also proposed to revoke the imposed price ceiling to help affected producers and retailers recover from their losses.

“Dumadaing na ang ating producers at retailers. Ilang eksperto na ang tumutol sa pagpapatupad ng price ceiling. Bawiin na sana ito para makabawi naman sa lugi ang ating mga kababayan (Our producers and retailers are complaining. Several experts have already expressed opposition to implementation of a price ceiling. It should be revoked for the sake of our fellowmen),” she added. AAC 

Meat dealers, vendors at Commonwealth Market to go on pork holiday starting Feb. 22

Marje Pelayo   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Meat dealers and vendors at Commonwealth Market agreed to not sell pork starting Monday (February 22).

They said it is not because they are protesting against the government but because of income loss due to the implementation of the price cap on pork.

“Lahat tayo namomroblema kung saan tayo kukuha ng baboy ngayon. Mayroon naman, sobrang taas. Lalong hindi natin masusunod yung P270 na iyan. Ngayon ano magiging solusyon natin? Ito. Nagpapaalam tayo sa administrator natin na hindi muna tayo magtitinda,” said Toto Rillo, a meat vendor.

Vendors argued that up to present, they still get pork at a higher price and not all of them are able to recieve from deliveries provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) coming from other parts of the country.

“Paano naman kami? Ubos na ang puhunan namin at wala na kaming ipapaubos kasi ubos na. Yan ang totoo. Magpakatotoo tayo. Nagbibigay tayo ng 270 peso negative,” argued Norma Noma, also a meat dealer.

What they appeal is for DA to increase the price cap to at least P330 per kilogram that is effective in the entire Luzon region.

They also argued against reports that some supplies that are supposedly for Metro Manila are diverted to other provinces where they can be sold at the much higher price.

This shouldn’t be the case, they said, as the government even provided transportation subsidy for the supplies to reach Metro Manila.

According to DA, they are now investigating the matter while the agency is studying the possibility of implementing the price cap to the whole of Luzon.

“Susundan natin yung pagdating mismo ng shipment. Pupuntahan yan ng ating enforcement (team),” said DA Undersecretary Ernesto Gonzales.

“Susundan iyan hanggang sa slaughter house. Kung ilalabas yan, hindi nila matatanggap yung subsidy,” he added. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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