The Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William D. Dar distributed a total of P302.08 million worth of financial assistance and other interventions to farmers and fishers in the province of Pampanga during the formal launch of the second wave of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund – Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RCEF-RFFA) and the Fuel Discount Program on May 24, 2022.
About P240.4 M will be awarded under the first and second waves of the RCEF-RFFA, benefitting 21,687 rice farmers in 2021 and 25,339 this year. A total of P2.25 M in the form of fuel discount vouchers will also be distributed to 936 corn farmers and fisherfolk.
On top of these, a total of 40 farmer cooperatives and associations (FCAs) will receive a total of 59 farm machineries from the DA Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) under the RCEF Mechanization component.
The machineries—which consist of four-wheel tractors, hand tractors, precision seeder, rice combine harvesters, mobile rice mill, single pass rice mill, multi-stage rice mills, seed cleaners, mechanical weeders, and a shallow tube well—amounted to P58.7 M.
In his message, Secretary Dar assured that the fight for a food-sovereign Philippines continues amidst the fear of a looming global food crisis, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict.
“That’s the campaign we would like to have in the country: pataasin ang ani at kita ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda. Ituloy natin ang kampanya sa agrikultura. Nandito ang Kagawaran ng Pagsasaka upang pangunahan ang laban sa kahirapan at kagutuman,” the DA chief declared.
The Secretary also lauded the partnership between the Provincial Government of Pampanga and the DA, particularly in terms of creating a pool of farm machineries for local government use and extending services of a mobile mechanic repairs team to the FCA-beneficiaries.
He also reiterated the need to increase the budget allocation for the country’s agriculture sector, noting that while the Philippines dedicated P85.5B or 1.5% of its total budget to agriculture for 2022, other ASEAN countries have already been allotting 6% of their respective budgets for agriculture annually.
“Our proposal for next year is to triple the budget [for agriculture]. P250 B para mas marami ang maitulong namin sa sektor ng agrikultura,” he said. (Krystelle Ymari A. Vergara, DA-AFID)