AID FOR FARMERS. Payout of the P5,000 government cash assistance for small rice farmers in La Paz, Leyte affected by the health crisis. The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday (June 8, 2020) said 48,528 out of 55,938 target farmer-beneficiaries in Eastern Visayas have received the cash aid. (Photo courtesy of DA)

TACLOBAN CITY – Some 48,528 rice farmers in Eastern Visayas have received P5,000 cash assistance from the government amid the global health crisis.
The Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Land Bank of the Philippines, has started the payout of the Financial Subsidy to Rice Farmers (FSRF) on May 18, said DA Eastern Visayas Director Angel Enriquez in a statement on Monday.
“The financial assistance for small rice farmers who plant one hectare or less can be used to buy farm inputs or other priority needs like food or anything to alleviate their sufferings while still under community quarantine and social restrictions,” she said.
Out of 55,938 target beneficiaries in the region, a total of 30,461 farmers have received the cash aid in Leyte and Biliran, and 18,067 in Samar.
“We won’t stop until we complete the cash payout to our target beneficiaries. The disruptions caused by Typhoon Ambo and other challenges met by our team are but natural challenges. Somehow, this slightly affected our timeline in the distribution since our field personnel shifts their focus on damage assessment as part of our quick response activities whenever a calamity strikes,” Enriquez said.
She said the cash assistance was originally intended to cushion the impact of the Rice Tarrification Law through the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance program, where some 4,776 farmers in Southern Leyte have initially received the same benefit in the last quarter of 2019.
However, the budget was realigned to fund the FSRF when the country was declared under a state of emergency due to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to assist adversely affected farmers.
“Also, right now, we are in the full-blast implementation of other major programs such as the Rice Resiliency Project, Urban Agriculture, Upscaling of Kadiwa ni Ani and Kita, the Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, the SURE aid loan assistance program, seed distribution, as well as the continuous palay-buying through the National Food Authority, all aimed at boosting the farmers’ productivity and incomes,” Enriquez said.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, Eastern Visayas has confirmed a total of 51 cases, including 30 recoveries and no death. (GERICO SABALZA/PNA)