BUTUAN CITY — “I can’t believe that though I am a small farmer, the government considered and extended assistance to me. I will use the money to buy farm inputs. It is a great relief for my family,” said Danilo Osigan, a farmer from Barangay Causwagan, Talacogon, Agusan del Sur.

Osigan is one of the beneficiaries of the continued effort of the government to uplift the lives of the small rice farmers through the third round of the distribution of the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA3) in Caraga Region.

The distribution is set to be completed region-wide in the middle of December 2022, with a total of 52,820 rice farmers set to benefit from the assistance.

Caraga Region has been allocated with a total amount of P272 million for the program to include the processing expenses.

Last October 3, 2022, the regional launching was held at Rosario, Agusan del Sur wherein around 1,126 eligible rice farmers received the assistance.

On that occasion, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Caraga Team headed by Regional Executive Director Engr. Ricardo M. Oñate, Jr., together with Universal Storefront Services Corporation (USSC), a partner service provider was grateful to the local government unit of Rosario through Municipal Mayor Jose T. Cuyos, Sr. for being the host on the grand launching and for providing the necessary logistics.

The regional launching ceremony signals the distribution of RFFA in other parts of the region.

The RFFA , now in its 3rd phase, aims to sustain its support to rice farmers tilling 2 hectares and below and are affected by the episodes of a significant drop in palay farm gate prices in time with the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL). 

The immediate release of cash assistance also provides relief to rice farmers given the recent natural calamities and will also aid them in securing farm inputs such as fertilizer, oil and fuel incurred in using farm machinery.

The recipient must also be duly registered on the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), a national data bank of farmers.

RSBSA is the basic requirement in availing agri-fishery related government services particularly for the agri-related projects and programs.

This year’s round of RFFA’s is funded through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), an amount collected by the government as tariff from the imported rice in line with the implementation of RTL.

Republic Act No. 11203 or the RTL was promulgated to ensure food security and to make the country’s agricultural sector efficient, viable, and globally competitive.

Further, the law created the RCEF or Rice Fund to improve rice farmer’s competitiveness and income amid liberalization of the Philippine rice trade policy that lifted quantitative restrictions on rice imports. The tariff collected from rice imports is being used as a support fund for the farmers.

DA-Caraga urged the farmer beneficiaries to use the money efficiently in support of their livelihood endeavors. (Aurelius Parido Arais/DA-Caraga/PIA-Agusan del Sur)