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Rice competitiveness fund benefits nearly 5,000 farmers in Eastern Samar

BORONGAN CITY (PIA) — A total of 4,968 rice farmers from seven municipalities in Eastern Samar, namely Jipapad, Arteche, Dolores, Oras, Sulat, Can-avid, and Maslog, received financial assistance during the distribution of the Universal Storefront Services Corporation (USSC) network account card from January 31 to February 8, 2024.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. approved financial assistance worth P12.7 billion through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) collections last year. The amount was distributed among 2.3 million small rice farmers, each receiving P5,000 under the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) program.

The program aims to mitigate the impact of Executive Order No. 39, which mandates the price ceiling on regular and well-milled rice, to benefit small rice farmers.

Francis Rosaroso, the agricultural program coordinator of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the region, has revealed that the RCEF program operates under Republic Act 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

Based on this law, revenues collected from rice tariffs should be utilized to fund the yearly requirement of P10 billion for the RCEF. The funds will be used to finance programs and projects to enhance the competitiveness and output of palay farmers.

In 2022, the government generated an income of P18 billion from the RTL, and more than P23 billion was generated in 2023.

Rosaroso mentioned that the DA Eastern Visayas has been allocated a budget of P772 million for 2023 for the RFFA program, which will be distributed to small rice farmers. The stated amount exceeds the 2022 budget, which was only P532 million.

"The said amount becomes much bigger because for this year, we have newly-registered rice farmers," Rosaroso said.

Rice farmers in Sulat, Eastern Samar, queued up at an automated teller machine in front of the Sulat Municipal Building to withdraw their P5,000 financial assistance. (Photo: Dondon Cainto)

Virgilio Capon, the provincial head of the Office of Agricultural Services, mentioned that the government has allocated multiple subsidies for the rice-producing provinces under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

He mentioned that although Eastern Samar is not among the major rice-producing provinces, it was still allocated a budget due to insufficient rice production.

“Governor Ben P. Evardone lobbied at the DA-Central Office in Manila to include Eastern Samar as a beneficiary of the billions of funds from the tariff. This is why Eastern Samar was allocated this financial assistance,” Capon said.

Carpon added that to qualify for the program, a farmer must possess a tilled rice land measuring approximately 2 hectares, even if he is not the landowner. He must prove that he is cultivating a rice field and is registered in the DA's Registry System on Basic Sector of Agriculture (RSBSA).

Francis Rosaroso, the Agricultural Program Coordinating Head and the representative of Governor Ben P. Evardone, along with Vice-Governor Maricar Sison-Goteesan, Board Members Atty. Byron M. Suyot, RV Evardone, and OPAS Chief Virlin Capon led the financial distribution. (AAC/SDC/PIA-Eastern Samar)

Vice Governor Maricar Goteesan with some board members along with the farmer-beneficiaries. (Photo courtesy of Dondon Cainto)

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Samuel Candido


Region 8

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