ITOGON, Benguet – Almost 6,000 rice and corn farmers and fisherfolk in Benguet may now benefit from the Cordillera Administrative Region’s (CAR) share of the excess and unalloted rice tariffication fund of the national government.

AGRI AID. Agriculture regional director Dr. Cameron Odsey and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Lilibeth Sidney of the Cordillera Administrative Region lead the distribution of intervention monitoring cards (IMC) to almost 6,000 corn and rice farmers, and fisherfolk in Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet on Friday (May 6, 2022). The government aid is part of the region’s over PHP400-million share from the PHP80-billion excess and unallocated fund that the government had received from rice tariffication. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

During the ceremonial distribution, Department of Agriculture (DA)-CAR Regional Director Dr. Cameron Odsey said the intervention monitoring cards (IMCs) were given to farmers and fisherfolk so they could continue with their livelihood despite the global pandemic.

The government is giving assistance because food is important. Let us continue to till the land, and fish so that our fellow Filipinos will have food to eat,” Odsey said.

Around 5,800 rice and corn farmers and fisherfolk in Benguet out of the 87,662 in the region will receive PHP5,000 cash assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhanced Fund- Rice Farmers Financial Assistance Phase II (RCEF-RFFA).

The fund came from the PHP80.9-billion unallotted fund collected by the government under the rice tariffication program.

In 2021, Benguet yielded 3.46 metric tons of rice from the 6,842 hectares of rice lands.

At least 6,863 rice farmers are registered with the Registry System of Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA) or those who are listed in the DA’s registry of farmers.

The ceremonial distribution for rice and corn farmers also included the ceremonial distribution of the PHP3,000 IMC cards for fuel assistance to corn farmers and fisherfolk.

The beneficiaries of the fuel assistance are those who have not yet received assistance under the RCEF-RFFA.

Value the assistance and continue engaging in agriculture because it will make the Filipinos eat and survive,” Odsey also said.

DA data showed that the government has alloted PHP451.46 million for the RCEF-RFFA Program in Cordillera.

“We are very thankful for the DA’s continuing assistance. I have attended training on food safety in the past and the DA came up with programs to include us in their activities that will improve the quality of food we produce,” Jerome Dasi, a rice farmer and among the beneficiaries of the program, said in Ilokano. (Liza Agoot, PNA)