Cash transfer for farmers hurt by low prices looms

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DAGUPAN CITY—Agriculture industry leaders have asked Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman to include small landholding farmers in the agency’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program amid the decline in farm incomes because of low prices of local rice.

Oftociano Manalo, head of the Ilocos Region Confederation of Irrigators Association, said farmers’ groups and agriculture industry stakeholders in Pangasinan, Isabela and Nueva Ecija met with Soliman on Wednesday to discuss their situation.

He said Soliman had promised to meet with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to push the CCT program for farmers.

“Many rice farmers are already complaining about the low prices of palay. Rice millers cannot buy their produce because their warehouses are still stocked and they have no more money to buy the newly harvested palay. Some are planning to plant only what is enough for their consumption,” Manalo said.

The meeting was also attended by Abono partylist chair Rosendo So and former Pangasinan Representatives Conrado Estrella III and Mark Cojuangco.

In a statement, Abono said farmers, who are expected to earn only less than P1,800 a month or P60 a day, will no longer plant rice for the next cropping season, unless the government agrees to include them in the CCT.

It said the farmers’ economic condition this year is worse than last year’s when they sold their palay at P17.20 a kilogram or a net income of P4,000 a month.

This year, Abono said rice farmers are expected to sell their palay for as low as P14 a kg, meaning they will be selling their palay at a loss of P3.20 a kg.

Abono said a manifesto sent to Alcala by farmers, rice millers, retailers and other allied agricultural groups calling for an expansion of the CCT program would help cushion the impact of foreign rice shipments.

The group said for one harvest season, farmers usually have a gross return of P60,000 for five months, with the price of palay at P17.20 a kg. Minus cropping expenses of about P40,000, that leaves farmers at least P4,000 a month, it said.

“But nobody is buying because warehouses are still full,” said Abono. Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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  • Loggnat

    The trend in the Philippines these days is for every man jack demands free monetary handout (CCT) when their livelihood is threatened. The government should refrain from giving handout and use the money to assist the farmers to form a cooperative and build or rent warehouses to store their rice until the price goes up to their liking. Or the government should buy the rice from the farmer at a price that is agreeable to both sides and that the government utilize the rice surplus that they bought as emergency supply for disasters and other calamities.The farmer should plant something else that will sell for a nice profit instead of their current rice crop which is not profitable at all. The government should stop giving handout to those who can’t make their business profitable and those who will not work in exchange for monetary help. Instead of a free hand-out, they should be paid for work done. My opinion only……

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