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DA: DBP provides P8.2 billion in subsidies to almost 1 million rice farmers, according to Landbank

MANILA, Philippines — According to data from the Department of Agriculture, the Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) facilitated the distribution of over PHP8.2 billion in direct and unconditional cash aid to over 1 million qualified small palay farmers from 2019 to 2021. (DA).

Under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), or Republic Act 11203, these two state financial institutions supplied monetary help as part of the DA’s Rice Farmers Financial Assistance Program (RFFA).

Farmers who get the PHP5,000 cash assistance should register with the Registry System for Agriculture’s Basic Sectors (RSBSA).

Rice import taxes in excess of the PHP10 billion set aside annually for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) could be utilized, among other things, to offer financial assistance to palay growers under RA 11203.

All rice tariffs over PHP10 billion shall be utilized entirely for financial aid to farmers tilling 2 hectares (ha) or less until 2024, according to the law.

“Through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, the Rice Tariffication Law has achieved its dual purpose of lowering retail rice prices while also helping farmers enhance production,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement Monday.

The BOC certified an excess in rice tariff collection of PHP2.135 billion in 2019, the year the RTL was implemented.

In excess collections in 2020, this sum increased to PHP5.5 billion, then to PHP8.9 billion in 2021, when the BOC was able to collect PHP18.9 billion on rice shipments entering the country.

The BOC collected PHP46.6 billion in rice import charges from March 2019 to March 2021.

According to DA data, more than 1 million rice farmers have received over 8.7 million bags of certified inbred rice seeds, which have been confirmed to yield greater than traditional home-saved seeds, since the implementation of RCEF.

According to the DA, almost 830,000 hectares of palay farms around the country are currently producing more grains than previously.

950,000 farmers now have access to 19,542 pieces of farm machinery thanks to the RCEF.

A total of 90,000 farmers have benefited from 4,978 training batches. A total of 14,459 professionals, trainers, and extension intermediates have undergone palay farming training.

Since the implementation of RCEF, 220 farm schools have been created, increasing the total to 470, and 49,649 rice farmers have accessed approximately PHP1.5 billion in loans from the Landbank and DBP as part of the credit component of RCEF.

The RTL’s windfall of financial resources for agricultural modernization is a dramatic reversal of the government’s PHP11 billion average annual tax subsidies to the National Food Authority (NFA), which has had a monopoly on rice imports for over a decade.

With RTL, the NFA’s role has been reduced to securing emergency rice supplies, which are sourced only from local palay growers.

On February 14, 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the RTL into law as RA 11203.

This law replaced quantitative restrictions (QRs) on rice imports with tariffs.

Rice prices have dropped to an average of PHP39 per kilogram (kg) today, a drop of roughly PHP7 per kilo from their peak in 2018 when they were around PHP47 per kilo.

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