Gov't offers loans to rice farmers as palay prices fall to P7 a kilo


Posted at Sep 03 2019 09:17 AM

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MANILA — Farmers suffering income loss from a recent deluge of rice imports may get zero-interest loans, but not conditional cash transfers, from the government, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said Tuesday. 

The government needs to shell out P6 billion if it gives P5,000 each in conditional cash transfers to 1.1 million farmers tending to rice fields 1 hectare and below in size, said Dar. 

"We don't have that money," he told radio DZMM. 

Farmers listed in the government's registry could avail a P15,000 loan payable in 8 years with zero interest, which would be sourced from the agriculture department's credit policy council, he said. 

In the "later part of September", the government will offer another P25,000 loan package with 2 percent interest payable in 3 years, which would come from rice import tariffs, he said. 

Farmers have complained that the price of palay has dropped to P7 to P11 a kilo due to a flood of cheap rice imports. 

Under the rice tariffication law that removed the cap on grain imports, the government is mandated to allot P10 billion to aid farmers. 

Out of this amount, P5 billion should go to the mechanization of rice farming, P3 billion to the distribution of inbred rice seeds, P1 billion to credit for farmers and another P1 billion for their skills development, said Dar. 

DZMM, September 3, 2019