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Small rice farmers to receive P5k cash aid amid COVID-19 —DA chief

Rice farmers in the country tilling less than a hectare of land will receive a one-time cash assistance from the government amid the COVID-19 health emergency, according to Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Monday.

In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Dar said that 591,246 rice farmers in 34 provinces will receive P5,000 financial subsidy each through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

"Ongoing na itong ayuda na ito," Dar said.

Farmers of other crops shall be covered by the P5,000 to P8,000 emergency cash assistance from the government, he added.

"'Yung iba po, below the poverty threshold, poorest of the poor, kahit ano ka pa basta bukod dito sa 591,246 ay kasama po sila sa social amelioration program ng gobyerno," Dar said.

"Dapat 'yung fishers natin, coconut farmers na pobreng-pobre, mga upland farmer ay kasama sila sa listahan dapat ng barangay captain at DSWD para mabigyan sila ng ayuda."

There will be no duplication of assistance because of inter-agency coordination, the Agriculture chief said.

"Mayroon kaming ugnayan ng DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) na walang duplication. We are exchanging lists," he said.

The cash assistance from the Department of Agriculture will be released over the counter at different branches of the Land Bank of the Philippines.

"Bibigyan namin ng listahan 'yung mga bangko na sakop nitong mga probinsya o munisipyo," Dar said.

Towards the end of 2019, the DA also distributed P5,000 unconditional cash assistance to small rice farmers who bore the brunt of the drop in the prices of palay after the Duterte administration enacted the Rice Tariffication Law, which removed quantitative restrictions on rice imports and setting a 35% tariff for shipments from Southeast Asia. --Dona Magsino/KBK, GMA News