520 M aid released to Caraga farmers

The Department of Agriculture (DA) handed over on Thursday a total of PHP26.5 million worth of various farm machinery and equipment to eligible farmers' associations in the Caraga Region.

The distributed farm implements were part of the range of assistance mandated under Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), said DA 13 (Caraga) Executive Director Abel James Monteagudo, who led the distribution at the regional agriculture office.

"You are now receiving the fruit of the implementation of (the) RTL. The rice tariff revenues are allocated to programs that will make Caraga rice farmers globally competitive," Monteagudo said. "Rest assured that more interventions are coming and sooner will be realized. We just need your support and your cooperation."

He said the release of the farm equipment and machinery was part of the PHP350 million budget, specifically allocated for farm implements, that has already benefited some 280 farmers' associations and cooperatives in Caraga.

Among the distributed equipment, Monteagudo said, are mechanical rice transplanters, four wheel drive tractors, rice combine harvesters, hand tractors, rice threshers, rice reapers, seed spreader, and pump and engine set.

He noted that under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) mandated under the RTL, PHP520 million in aid, consisting of machinery, seeds, credit and training, and extension services, has been released to the region's rice farmers since last year.

The credit assistance to the rice farmers was implemented under the Agricultural Credit Policy Council and in coordination with the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines through the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE Aid) Program.

DA records show that 6,596 rice farmers from the provinces of Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, and Agusan del Norte, including Butuan City, have already benefited from the SURE Aid program since last year.

Monteagudo said the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Agusan also distributed a separate PHP65.5 million worth or an equivalent of 86,243 bags of inbred rice seeds to 34,258 farmers in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, and Surigao del Sur during the planting season in November to December last year.

Among the recipients of the farm machinery were the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) from Agusan del Sur.

Robert "Datu Bantiles" Tagalogon, tribal leader of the Manobo Farmers Sectoral Tribal Council, Inc. in La Paz, Agusan del Sur,

thanked the government as he received the five pumps and engine sets.

The equipment, Tagalogon said, will benefit about 3,000 Manobo rice farmers who will now have easier access to the water supply.

"We are now ready for the next cropping season through the help of the pump and engine. We are looking forward to an abundant harvest," he said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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