The Department of Agriculture has started the rollout of the P233.1 million Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) Program in Capiz.

The national organization will be distributing the fund to a total of 46,637 qualified farmers tilling two hectares or less of rice fields, DA Western Visayas Regional Executive Director Remelyn Recoter said.

The issuance of the P5,000 financial assistance officially began on February 7 with beneficiaries in the municipality of Cuartero.

Recoter noted that the distribution of the aid will be finished in the first week of March, assuring a continuous flow to immediately assist rice farmers facing the challenges brought forth by the wake of Typhoon Odette, the COVID-19 threat, and the high cost of fertilizers.

“So we are hoping the PHP5,000 will be used for fertilizer, other production input, and other domestic expense,” she added.

The RFFA will be sourced from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) from import duties or taxes from rice importers during the 2019-2020 period, which had an excess of P7 billion.

“If there is an excess in the taxes that will be collected, the law says that it can be used either for crop insurance, land titling, crop diversification, and financial assistance. So in 2019 to 2020 there was an excess of PHP7 billion that was utilized as financial assistance,” Recoter explained.

DA will be resuming the distribution of the monetary aid in Iloilo next month for 48, 658 rice farmers. Meanwhile, they’re still working out a plan to distribute the funds in Antique.

So far, the DA has finished issuing the RFFA in Aklan and Guimaras.

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Image credit: Office of Provincial Agriculturist–Capiz Official Facebook Page