AGRICULTURE Secretary William D. Dar said qualified farmers and fishers will also receive social amelioration from the government amid the extension of the enhanced community quarantine.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has distributed P5,000 each to rice farmers listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture.

The aid is under the Financial Subsidy for Rice Farmers (FSRF) program, which is the DA’s existing social amelioration program (SAP), funded under the General Appropriations Act of 2020.

“This is a one-time payment, hence the recipients of FSRF can still receive cash assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) during its second tranche of distribution,” Mr. Dar said.

Mr. Dar said only rice farmers in selected provinces are included based on the criteria originally set under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.

This means farmers who are not beneficiaries under the FSRF will receive the regular SAP from the DSWD.

The FSRF is the second tranche of the Rice Farmer Financial Assistance program that was rolled out last year for farmers tilling 0.5 to 2 hectares.

“The DA’s SAP focuses on the affected agricultural sector of the country. We are trying to maximize our resources while ensuring no one is left behind. We have been continuously coordinating with the DSWD to ensure that those not covered under the FSRF will still be given assistance,” Mr. Dar said.

FSRF aims to assist rice farmers most affected by the sudden price drop of palay, or unmilled rice, in rice producing provinces.

The DA said there have been 234,586 beneficiaries since the implementation of the FSRF in early April.

Another 591,000 beneficiaries are still expected to benefit from the program.

“We do not want to discriminate against other farmers, and also fishermen, from the financial assistance being given by the government to the marginalized sector of our society. It just so happened that the fund and implementing guidelines of the FSRF has already been finalized and approved early this year, even before the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave