DA reserves P3-B for next year to support more farmers affected by rice tariff law

Marje Pelayo   •   November 19, 2019   •   137

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) will reserve P3 billion for the next batch of farmers affected by the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

Agriculture Secretary William Dar clarified that only those farmers who yield one to two hectares of farmland may avail of the P5,000 unconditional cash transfer.

Also, the distribution of rice to beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) will begin next week in lieu of the supposed rice cash allowance.

The rice supply for the said program will come from farmers to help them dispose of their yield and cope up with the struggles of the plummeting price of rice in local markets.

The DA is also looking into cases of smuggling of rice and other agricultural products into the country.

Dar, meanwhile, asked farmers who will be staging a protest on Wednesday to consider what the Department is currently doing to ease the effect of RTL. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Pangilinan calls for release of P6B compensation for rice farmers this December

Robie de Guzman   •   December 12, 2019

(FILE) A Filipino farmer walking along the edge of a rice terrace at Batad village in the town of Banaue, Ifugao province, Philippines, 20 February 2017.  EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday called on the Departments of Finance and Agriculture to release the P6 billion cash compensation for rice farmers this December.

During the bicameral conference committee meeting, Pangilinan said the release of the compensation will be a gift for rice farmers who were affected by the influx of imported rice in the local market.

“They need this reparation now,” he said.

In November, Pangilinan filed Senate Bill 1191 seeking to augment the 2019 budget with P6 billion to provide cash transfer from unprogrammed funds to rice farmers.

The senator believes the cash transfer will give them a lifeline to continue farming following the effects of the implementation of the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Act, which imposes a minimum 35-percent tariff on rice imports in lieu of quantitative restrictions (QRs).

Since the passage of the law, farmgate prices of palay have plunged to as low as P7 to P10 per kilo in some provinces, while the price of rice dropped by 2.9 percent, and the price of palay by 17.48 percent.

The drop in farmgate price of palay has resulted in huge income losses for rice farmers and the industry, now estimated around P60 billion, and projected to double by yearend.

The liberalization of rice imports, while intended to give the country a steady supply, has led to declining palay farmgate prices in many rice-producing areas, according to Pangilinan.

“Hindi kasalanan ng ating mga magpapalay ang nangyayaring pagguho ng kanilang kabuhayan. Kailangan isalba natin ang pagpapalay dito sa atin, dahil kung hindi, tayo ring lahat na kumakain ng bigas ang sa huli ay magdudusa at kakapusin sa bigas,” Pangilinan said

(The damage to their livelihood is not our farmers’ fault. We need to save our rice farmers because if not, all of us who consume rice will, in the end, suffer and face rice shortage.)

The lawmaker said releases from the proposed supplemental fund will be made by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) directly to the Department of Agriculture (DA), which shall make available the fund to the farmers.

The fund will be effective until December 31, 2020.

‘Tisoy’ leaves P2-B worth of damage to PH agriculture — DA

Marje Pelayo   •   December 5, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) announced the overall damage left by Typhoon Tisoy to the country’s agriculture industry.

The DA said almost 21,000 farmers were economically displaced and about 47 hectares of farmland were destroyed by the typhoon.

Among the areas hardest hit were CALABARZON, Bicol, Central Luzon, MIMAROPA, and Western Visayas Region.

Specifically, mostly damaged were high-value crops such as palay and corn as well as agricultural facilities.

The DA said they are ready to distribute the cash assistance to farmers and fishermen amounting to P181-million.

In other regions, more than 14,000 sacks of palay seeds are ready for distribution to the affected farmers. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

DA issues tougher guidelines on acquiring rice import permits

Marje Pelayo   •   November 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) maintains it is not stopping the issuance of permits to import rice.

“Hindi namin pinapa-stop (We are not stopping the importation.) We are implementing the law properly,” Secretary William Dar said.

Instead, the Department made the guidelines stricter which include inspection of storage houses.

On Tuesday (November 19), President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of rice importation because it is currently harvest time in the country.

According to the Federation of Free Farmers, stricter guidelines of rice importation is similar to stopping the process.

But they argue that the measure is just temporary while rice exporters are completing their requirements.

“In the meantime, na hindi sila maka-comply tigil muna ang export nila sa atin (In the meantime that they cannot comply, they need to stop exporting to us),” explained the farmers’ group’s Chairman Leonardo Montemayor.

The DA, meanwhile, will investigate farmers’ cooperatives and organizations who are using dummies in order to proceed with their importations.

“We will now look at three years of their business engagements kung may financial capability ba (if they have the financial capability),” Dar said.

“Mayroon ba silang warehouses? So lahat po ng pag-i-igting na iyon (Do they have warehouses? So we will intensify everything),” he added.

Dar said the President also wants to increase the buffer stocks of the National Food Authority (NFA) from 15 days to 30 days.

This would require the agency to purchase more palay from local farmers.

The NFA was also ordered to sell not lower than 20,000 sacks of rice per day.

Likewise, the unconditional cash transfer for farmers affected by the decreasing price of rice brought about by the rice tariffication law will be also be expanded to three years. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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