THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has released over P130 million worth of loans to rice farmers in the Eastern Visayas region.

In a statement, the DA said it has disbursed P136.425 million worth in loans under the expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE Aid) program, which targets 9,095 farmers from Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and Samar provinces.

The loans are distributed via cash cards provided by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK). This program is implemented by the DA through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) and the bank, targeting rice farmers affected by the drop in the price of palay, or unmilled rice, the form in which they sell their harvest to traders.

Under the SURE Aid program, farmers tilling one hectare or less may avail of the one-time loan of P15,000, with no interest, payable over eight years.

The DA also awarded farmers farm inputs and machinery worth P65.83 million in nine Leyte towns — Abuyog, Bato, Hilongos, Hindang, Inopacan, Javier, Mahaplag, Matalom, and Baybay City. The package includes certified and hybrid rice, fertilizer, threshers, reapers and hand tractors.

More than P600,000 worth of agricultural assistance, which includes hybrid and certified rice seed, as well as veterinary drugs and biologics, was given to farmers in Tacloban City.

Assistance from other DA agencies were also distributed by the Philippine Fiber Development Authority, Philippine Coconut Authority, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang