DA-CAR releases over P377-M aid to farmers
BAGUIO CITY – The Department of Agriculture in the Cordillera Administrative Region (DA-CAR) has released a total of PHP377.7 million in assistance to farmers in the region amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The assistance came in the form of soft loans, grants, and distribution of farm inputs.
Dr. Cameron Odsey, regional director of the DA-CAR, in a telephone interview on Tuesday, said some PHP224.4 million was released in the form of a soft loan to flower and vegetable farmers and fisherfolk under the Expanded survival and recovery (E-SURE) aid; PHP80.8 million under the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance program (RFFAP); and PHP72.5 million under the Rice Resiliency Project (RRP).
The PHP25,000 soft loan assistance to individual farmers under the E-SURE is payable in 10 years without interest to help finance the emergency and production capital requirements and working capital of farmers.
Because it is a soft loan, the farmers will only have to allocate PHP6.84 per day or PHP205.20 a month in 10 years to pay the amount.
As of September 11, a total of 8,924 farmers in the six provinces of the region benefited from the government’s loan assistance program.
Odsey said Benguet farmers got the bulk at PHP150 million or about 60 percent of the PHP224.4 million allotted to the Cordillera under the E-SURE aid.
The remaining amount was shared by the other provinces.
Odsey said most of the beneficiaries in Benguet are the flower growers who lost a lot starting from the cancellation of mass gathering activities nationwide due to the pandemic. The Baguio Flower Festival and Valentine events were also canceled, which contributed to their losses.
The director said that most regions in the country were allotted PHP65 million but the Cordillera was given a big amount as an immediate response to reports and complaints aired by farmers and the drop in prices of high-value crops.
Rice farmers assistance
Odsey added that the DA also assisted rice farmers in Kalinga, Apayao, and Ifugao.
Each of the 16,160 beneficiaries received PHP5,000 under the RFFAP.
The beneficiaries under the program are rice farmers tilling an area between 5,000 square meters to two hectares.
Rice resiliency project aid
Under the department’s RRP, some PHP72.5 million was released to 34,375 farmers in the six provinces of the region in the form of hybrid and inbred seeds.
About 1,432 farmers also received fertilizer components and other farm inputs.
Odsey said that the DA is requesting an amount from the Bayanihan II to be able to continue providing support to more farmers and fisherfolk nationwide.
DA also help market, sell produce
Aside from giving financial and logistics support, the DA is also aiding farmers in the marketing of their produce if only to assure that their products do not just rot without being sold.
Aida Pagtan, chief of the DA-CAR Public Information Office, said the “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” program was mobilized as a marketing strategy where the producer (farmer) was linked directly to the consumer especially those in the urban areas like Metro Manila. The Kadiwa was categorized into “express”, “on wheels”, and “retail”.
Under the “Kadiwa Express”, the assistance was extended to farmer groups or individuals by linking them directly to buyers and providing transport assistance by hauling their produce from their identified consolidation area to the partner buyer delivery location.
The project was able to assist 3,991 farmers mostly from the vegetable growing areas of Benguet, Bauko in Mtn. Province and Tinoc in Ifugao. A total sales of 837.37 metric tons of assorted vegetables with a total market value of PHP22,474,562 was realized under this program.
“Kadiwa on wheels” is a partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry and the local governments of Baguio and Benguet which was added in the “Rolling store” program of the DTI. Seven farmer groups were able to sell 2.7 tons of vegetables generating gross sales of PHP958,860.
“Kadiwa Retail” is a store within the DA compound in Guisad, Baguio City where farmers bring their products for the public to buy. A total of 19,093 kilograms of agricultural products worth PHP1,445,738 were sold.
Pagtan said the DA immediately responded to farmers’ woes from the start of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Tuloy-tuloy pa rin po ang gobyerno sa pagtulong sa mga kababayan natin. Ginagawa po ng ating pamahalaan ang makakaya nito para maibsan ang paghihirap ng mga mamamayan lalo na ang mga farmers natin na nagbibigay ng pagkain sa ating hapag kainan (The government continues to provide help to our people. The government is doing everything it can to ease the suffering of our people especially the farmers who are the ones producing food for our tables),” Pagtan said.** Liza Agoot, PNA