Department of Agriculture (DA) officials were pressured by Senator Imee Marcos to react quickly to restive laments from farmers over the late release of their government grant which was allegedly parked in term deposit.
Marcos said the 9 billion peso grant for farmers was also for the next rainy season rice harvest which begins this month.
“Grants to farmers are not for term deposit but for quick release [to farmers]she said, lamenting growing complaints from wayward farmers, prompting DA officials to “speed up the release of nearly 9 billion pesos in government subsidies, especially for rice farmers who are now preparing for the wet sowing season.
She said affected rice farmers had to contact her office to complain that the 5,000 pula cash aid allocated to some 1.6 million farmers was “slow in coming, months after the Ministry of Budget and Management announced its availability for the first time”.
“Huwag nang i-a term deposit the pondo for magsasaka and hindi naman ‘yan para tumubo ng interes in bangko. Paspasan na ang pag-Release Niyan, ngayon din.
The Land Bank of the Philippines had said the delay in releasing the cash aid was allegedly due to the DA’s problems with its identification system.
“If the DA does not have the ability to update its RSBSA [Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture]then he should appeal to municipal farmers who should have a list of farmer cooperatives in their areas of responsibility,” said Marcos, who chairs the Senate Committee on Cooperatives.
Further, she noted that the RSBSA’s list of individual farmers with access to fertilizer and seed subsidies should not exclude but continue to support those whose livelihoods have developed to transform their crops into valuable products. added.
She added that “about 18.9 billion pesos in rice tariffs were collected by the government last year”, enabling the allocation of nearly 9 billion pesos in additional subsidies to farmers in addition. of the 10 billion pesos mandated by the rice pricing law.
At the same time, Marcos warned of low crop yields and even food shortages if farmers are unable to use their subsidies to purchase fertilizers and other agricultural inputs.
“The DA creates bigger problems for itself if it delays the release of subsidies to farmers. Agricultural yields of the country’s staple crops cannot be maintained, let alone increased, if farmers cannot afford fertilizer and they abandon their livelihoods.
The senator added that a rice farmer cultivating one hectare can save 25 to 33 percent on fertilizer costs with the P5,000 subsidy, noting that farmers use around 6 to 8 bags of fertilizer per hectare and will spend 15,000 to P20,000 at today’s price of urea.
“The tight global supply of fertilizer has sent local farmers reeling from prices which have tripled since 2020, from around P800 per 50 kilogram bag of urea to P2,300 to P2,500 this year. “
Image credits: BusinessMirror/Nicolle Bernadette Cuevas