DA told to expedite release of cash subsidies for rice farmers
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Imee Marcos called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to expedite the release of the P8 billion government subsidies for rice farmers, especially amid the planting season.
Marcos said this in a statement on Sunday after baring that rice farmers have complained to her office about the delayed P5,000 aid despite already being announced by the Department of Budget and Management last July 31.
“Huwag nang i-time deposit ang pondo para sa mga magsasaka at hindi naman ‘yan para tumubo ng interes sa bangko. Paspasan na ang pag-release niyan, ngayon din,” Marcos said.
(Don’t put farmers’ funds in time deposits since they’re not meant to earn interest. Speed up the release, right now.)
She warned of low farm yields and even worsened food shortages if farmers are unable to use their subsidies to buy fertilizers and other farm inputs.
“The DA is creating bigger problems for itself if it delays the release of farmer subsidies. Farm yields for the country’s staple crops cannot be maintained, much less increased, if farmers can’t afford fertilizers and quit their livelihood,” said Marcos.
Marcos explained that a farmer tilling one hectare of rice can save 25 percent to 33 percent on fertilizer costs with the said subsidy, as farmers use six to eight bags of fertilizer per hectare spending P15,000 to P20,000 at today’s prices of urea fertilizer.
This price has tripled since 2020, from about P800 per 50-kilogram bag of urea to P2,300 to P2,500 in 2022.
The Land Bank of the Philippines, for its part, has said that the delay was allegedly due to the DA’s problem with its ID system.
But Marcos said that the DA should then call on the assistance of municipal authorities to update their registry system.
“If the DA lacks the capacity to update its RSBSA (Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture), then it should call on municipal agriculturists who ought to have a list of farmers’ cooperatives in their areas of responsibility,” Marcos urged.
The senator explained that around P18.9 billion in rice tariffs have been collected by the government last year, allowing the allotment of close to P8.01 billion in additional farmer subsidies besides the P10 billion mandated under the Rice Tariffication Law.
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