The Department of Agriculture (DA) today launched the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance RFFA) Program in Cagayan Province.

A total number of 745 farmers from the municipalities of Alcala, Tuguegarao City, and Enrile, Cagayan, had received the Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) financial assistance as an incentive to rice farmers affected by the low buying price of palay brought by the implementation of Rice Tarrification Law (RTL).

Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Operations Andrew B. Villacorta, representing Secretary William D. Dar, said that the amount was not enough compared to the losses of farmers’ last cropping season.

“But this assistance represents the big heart of our President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to our small farmers who are crying for assistance from the government,” he added.

“This is just one, however, of the various activities being undertaken by the department through the able leadership of our Secretary to help ease the effect of RTL.”

He solicited the support of every stakeholder to support the trade liberalization law designed to improve the competitiveness of farmers in all aspects.

The 10 Billion Pesos derived from taxes yearly through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) will surely help farmers in lowering the cost of inputs.

“For 2020, we expect that farmers shall already feel the effect of assistance on mechanization, seeds, credit, and training,” he added.

“Rest assured that the department is looking for more ways to help our farmers not only through its regular program but also allying with local government, the private sector, and other stakeholders.”

He also mentioned that Secretary Dar is open to evaluate the impact of the RTL yearly so that measures will be implemented accordingly.

As per the provision of the law, the RTL may be evaluated after three years of implementation.

Meanwhile, Cagayan Governor Manuel N. Mamba showed his support and acknowledged the effects of RTL to his constituents.

“Let’s embrace it, and it is not always that we get positive results from some projects, but this immediate intervention set up to cushion you during the transition phase of the Rice Tarrification Law is a big help from the agency,” he said.

“Alam ko marami pang mga malalaking problema na ating kakaharapin na dulot ng batas na ito, pero kung tayo’s magtutulungan madali na lang malulutas ang mga ito.”

The governor said that the provincial government is serious in assisting farmers in value-adding activities, marketing their produce, locally, and globally.

“We need to open more opportunities for our farmers to raise their income,” he equipped.

The re-opening of Appari port is necessary so that we can be globally competitive, as your governor, I will see to it that this will become operational before the end of my political career. He then solicited support of the realization of this undertaking.

In his speech, DA Regional Executive Director Narciso Edillo said RFFA would also benefit a total of 110, 734 rice farmers across the Cagayan Valley region composed of Cagayan, 44,974, Isabela, 43,496, Nueva Vizcaya, 15,948 and Quirino with 6,316 rice farmers.

For her part, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) Senior Vice President and Head Banking Group Madeline Aldana said that DA partnered with them and MLhuiler to ease the transactions of both parties.

“We are honored to partner with DA in this noble undertaking” , she said.

During the event, DBP and Mlhuiller showed how easy it was for farmers to collect the said assistance in over 34 branches provincewide. (With reports form Hector Tabbun)