MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has approved the release of around P13.4 billion in financial assistance packages to farmers, Malacañang said on Saturday.
Press Secretary Cheloy Garafil said each beneficiary of the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) program would receive P5,000, the funding of which would come from excess tariff collections from rice imports in 2022.
The President ordered the release of around P12.7 billion for the RFFA program, added Garafil.
Around 2.3 million rice farmers were identified beneficiaries under the RFFA, based on their registration in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) as of June 30, 2023, she said.
Marcos, Jr., who concurrently holds the agriculture portfolio, said this would help maintain famers' productivity.
"[This would] help them cope with the increasing cost of production and sustain their productivity even in the face of challenges like the coming El Niño [phenomenon]," said the President.
Information from the Palace release showed the RFFA program is an unconditional financial aid to farmers who are tilling land below 2 hectares, based on the Cash Assistance to Filipino Farmers Act of 2021.
Aside from this, Marcos Jr also approved using P700 million in excess tariff collections for the “Palayamanan Plus," according to the Press Secretary.
Palayamanan Plus is a conditional cash transfer under the Household Crop Diversification Program.
"It aims to ensure RSBSA-registered farmers, who are also listed in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)... 'will enjoy food, nutrition, and income security," said Garafil.
Some 78,000 beneficiaries will receive P10,000 each under the Palayamanan Plus.
"The two proposed financial assistance packages support the Masagana Rice Industry Development Programs," she noted.
Marcos earlier this week rejected proposals to reduce rice import tariffs, saying it was not the right time.
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier proposed to temporarily reduce the tariff rates on imported rice to between zero and 10 percent.
NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan also earlier said cutting import tariffs on the rice grain was among the measures being looked at to rein in the cost of the grain, following the price cap on two rice types.