PILI, CAMARINES SUR — About 77 eligible farmers and fisherfolk received cash and food assistance worth a total of P5,000 during the launch of the Department of Agriculture’s Cash and Food Subsidy for Marginal Farmers and Fisherfolk (CFSMFF) Program on December 16, 2020 at the DA Regional Field Office in this municipality.

The CFSMFF complements the Social Amelioration Program of other national government agencies by providing direct cash and food assistance to eligible smallholder corn, coconut, sugarcane and indigenous people (IP) farmers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic for the 2020 second cropping season. The program aims to augment their income considering disruptions in agricultural activities due to successive typhoons which hit Bicol region. It is also designed to provide assistance to marginal farmers and fisherfolk who were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, serve as market support to the local rice and poultry industries, and help boost micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Using CFSMFF’s e-voucher system, program beneficiaries will receive P3,000 cash via payout centers accredited by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) such as Mlhuillier. They are also entitled to P2,000-worth food pack containing rice, chicken and egg. The said e-voucher system developed by the DA-Information and Communications Technology Service (ICTS) features a unique system-generated reference code or Quick Response (QR) code per beneficiary valid for two months which they can present, along with a government-issued ID, to claim their cash and food assistance.

CFSMFF beneficiaries were identified by the implementing agency for each sector namely the DA Corn Program, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). Bicol has an indicative target of 44,470 farmers and fisherfolk who qualified as CFSMFF beneficiaries. Of these, 9,411 are from Camarines Sur, 6,355 are from Albay, 3,831 are from Camarines Norte, 6,240 are from Sorsogon. The island provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate have 8,932 and 9,971 farmer and fisherfolk beneficiaries, respectively. These include 444 corn farmers, 301 sugarcane farmers, 12,675 coconut farmers, 29,055 fisherfolk and 1,468 IP farmers with one hectare and below landholding enrolled in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), who are located in 5th to 6th income class cities and 4th to 6th income class municipalities, and are not covered by other Social Amelioration Programs for other commodities and from other government agencies.

Meanwhile, the DA Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) provided the list of KADIWA-recognized partner suppliers. They also coordinated with the regional CFSMFF technical working group (TWG) in assisting the partner suppliers and distributors in briefing and orientation on the food distribution under the program. Among DA-Bicol’s partner suppliers are the Camarines Sur Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Magarao Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Nabua West Multi-Purpose Cooperative, San Agustin-San Ramon Farmers Cooperative (SARFC), and Malangatong Farmers Association Inc. in Camarines Sur, Maporong Farmers Association in Albay, Ambos Camarines Consumers Cooperative in Camarines Norte, and Capuy-Basud Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Sorsogon. 

“Exciting po itong bagong programang ito ng DA para sa mga affected ng COVID-19 dahil high-tech and digitized na po ito,” DA-Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla said. He also encouraged the farmer-beneficiaries to help promote the RSBSA, which serves as the DA’s electronic compilation of basic information on farmers, farm laborers, and fishermen who are the target beneficiaries of the agency’s programs and services. “Ito po ang official system ng DA which will help us determine kung sino talaga yung mga legitimate farmers at yung mga datos tungkol sainyo so that we can give you the required and needed interventions,” he added.

Corn farmer Jaymar T. Rivera considers the cash and food subsidy as an early Christmas gift. He expressed his gratitude to the DA saying, “Maogma po kami na nakatanggap kaining subsidy… Dakulang tabang po ini para samo. Itong food po ito na po ang ipapakaon mi sa mga laborers—sa mga matanom. Itong cash man po, dai na kami maluwas nin ibang cash igwa nang (gagamiton itong) hale sa DA. Maogma kami. Bilang patunay man na dae nakakalingaw ang gobyerno sa anuman na pagkakataon.” DA-Bicol Regional Technical Director for Operations Luz R. Marcelino, AMAD Chief Adelina A. Losa, BFAR V Regional Director Nelson B. Bien, PCA V Regional Manager Mateo B. Zipagan, SRA Mill District Officer Salvador Ocampo, and Gumersindo B. Barcenal of NCIP-Bicol graced the launching activity. CFSMFF distribution and payment will continue at the local level to be facilitated by the DA-Bicol and other implementing agencies in coordination with the Municipal and City Agricultural Offices. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)