A total of 5,661 rice farmers from the four provinces in the Caraga region received a total of PHP84.9 million in cash assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA) last year.
The cash assistance was part of the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE-AID) program under the Agricultural Credit Policy Council of the agriculture department in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).
The objective of the program is to help the rice farmers regain their capacity to continue their production through various financial aids, such as loan programs, DA 13 (Caraga) Executive Director Abel James Monteagudo said in a statement issued on Friday.
Monteagudo said the rice farmers, who each received a PHP15,000 loan with zero interest, payable in eight years, were from the provinces of Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, and Agusan del Norte.
The first batch of 267 rice farmers from Buenavista, and 115 firm Remedios T. Romualdez (RTR) towns in Agusan del Norte received the cash aid in June 28 this year, while the second batch of 150 farmers from RTR received the assistance on February 14.
Friday's ceremony was led by Monteagudo and attended by LBP-Caraga North Lending Center Manager Linbert Fajunio and RTR Mayor Richard Daquipil.
Among the recipients of the cash assistance was Yolanda D. Lozano, 55, a rice farmer from Purok 2, Barangay Tagbongabong, RTR.
Lozano expressed gratitude to the government for the support she received, saying she would use the amount to purchase fertilizers and pesticides.
I am very happy that I am one of the recipients of the SURE Aid Program. The financers in our area offer a 20-percent interest rate in a PHP1,000 that I borrow. But the program's zero percent interest rate and flexible paying terms is a big help for us to continue producing local rice, she was quoted as saying.
DA-13 said SURE Aid Program supports farmers affected by the initial impact of lower palay prices resulting in reduced or lost income.
The DA continues to support the farmers. I am hoping that the cash assistance given to the farmer-recipients must serve its purpose. This must be applied to each rice farm area and must not be converted to other things, Monteagudo said.
He added that the agency, together with its partner agencies and the local government unit, would monitor the intervention to ensure that the assistance serves its purpose.
Source: Philippines News Agency