THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it released P8.05 billion worth of subsidies for rice farmers for distribution in the third and fourth quarters.

In a statement on Monday, Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman said the DBM released the Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) to the Department of Agriculture (DA), which will distribute a P5,000 subsidy to 1.56 million farmers.  

“Our farmers deserve our help and care. The immediate release of cash assistance could provide relief to our rice farmers given the recent natural calamities they experienced,” Ms. Pangandaman said.

The release of the NCA supports the Rice Farmer Financial Assistance (RFFA) program, targeted at farmers affected by the Rice Tariffication Law, she said.

The RFFA is a P3-billion unconditional cash transfer program targeting rice farmers tilling 0.5 to 2 hectares of land.

Passed in 2019, the Rice Tariffication Law allowed rice to be imported more freely but charged tariffs of 35% on grain imported from Southeast Asia. The tariffs provide P10 billion a year to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) to help the industry modernize.

“This unconditional cash assistance could also provide aid to the rice farmers in securing farm inputs such as fertilizer and oil farm machinery,” Ms. Pangandaman added.

The NCA likewise covers the service fee, including the cost of card generation, for the RCEF-RFFA of the Development Bank of the Philippines.

On March 24, DBM released a Special Allotment Release Order amounting to P8.9 billion to the DA as an unprogrammed appropriation.

Additionally, on May 6, an initial NCA worth P894.8 million was released by the DBM to the DA to support 173,753 qualified rice farmer-beneficiaries. — Keisha B. Ta-asan