Rice farmers from the province of Albay started to receive the P5,000 cash assistance from the Department of Agriculture under the Financial Subsidy for Rice Farmers (FSRF) program .

As of this writing, the DA Bicol has already distributed the said subsidy to 14,195 farmers.

The FSRF is granted to rice farmers with rice farm area of one hectare and below and enrolled in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).

Farmer Roger Mariñas from Barangay Bariis, Legazpi City who owns a 0.25 ha rice land said that the cash assistance will help him pay his loans in procuring fertilizers and the rental fee for the carabao he used in his farm. He shared that he was able to harvest only 10 sacks of palay because his farm was hit by Typhoon Ambo. Mariñas is one of the 1978 beneficiaries from Legazpi City.

Farmer Rodrigo O. Mancera from Barangay Talahib, Daraga, Albay who tills a one-hectare rice farm will invest his cash assistance for farm inputs.
“An kantidad na P5,000 iyo ini an idadagdag mi sa puhunan na paragastos duman sa kabasan. Salamat sa DA sa dakulang tabang sa samuyang mga farmers,” he said.
DA-Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla said that the FSRF is not a loan program but an unconditional cash transfer to farmers affected by the Rice Tarrification Law. This is the response of the national government to assist palay farmers in the country.

Albay Provincial Agriculturist Che Rebeta also said that “dahil sa program na ito, yung mga affected farmers natin sa pagbagsak ng presyo ng palay, ngayon ay nakikita na ang benefit ng ginawang Rice Tarrification Law. Yung na-create na Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund na kung saan yung taxes or tariff na makukuha sa mga imported rice natin ay ibabalik natin sa mga magsasaka at ito ay nararamdaman na nila ngayon.”

Twenty-three-year-old rice farmer Carlo Valenzuela from Barangay San Andres, Sto. Domingo said that this is his first time to receive cash assistance from the government. He shared that he will keep the cash to start his organic farm and in purchasing African Night Crawlers.

“Limang bulan ako sa Manila na nagtrabaho pero mas maogma ako sa pag-uuma tapos tinatabangan ka pa kan gobyerno,” Valenzuela related. His parents gave him the 0.50-rice farm. He is one of the 407 farmer-beneficiaries of said municipality.

Tornilla added that this FSRF is also an intervention to support small rice farmers affected by the initial impact of the quarantine measures caused by COVID-19 pandemic. They can either use the cash assistance in buying their farm inputs, food supply and other domestic needs.

Farmer Romeo Magallon of Barangay Binitayan, Camalig said that he will be buying food and grocery items for his family from the cash assistance he received. Magallon was one of the 959 farmer-beneficiaries from his municipality.

Farmer Emeteria M. Melitante from Barangay Mabini, Daraga, Albay shared that “maogmahon ako na natabangan ako sa pagtios ko. Magatanom kami ta yan pagkabuhay namon dangan su balay namon ipaayos ko ta wara na kami lunob ang balay namon.”

During the distribution in Daraga, Municipal Agriculturist Meljie Matociños said that more interventions will be received by the farmers.

“Sarabay-sabay man baga ta yaon na din su paray, su hybrid (rice) maabot na din.”

Regional FSRF Focal Person and AMAD Chief Adelina Losa urged the LGUs to campaign and encourage our local farmers to enroll in the RSBSA so that they can receive more interventions from the government.

In the Bicol Region, a total of 51,649 rice farmers will receive the FSRF. (Jayson M. Gonzales with reports from Annielyn L. Baleza)