February 7, 2023

The Department of Agriculture-Cordillera has released a total of P377.7 million worth of assistance in the form of soft loans, grants, and farm inputs to farmers in the region since the declaration of the Luzon-wide lockdown.

DA Regional Executive Director Cameron Odsey said P224.4M for soft loans was released to flower and vegetable farmers and fisherfolk under the agency’s Expanded Survival and Recovery (E-SURE) aid; P80.8M under the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance program (RFFAP); and P72.5M under the Rice Resiliency Project (RRP).

The P25,000 soft loan assistance to individual farmers under the E-SURE is payable in 10 years without interest to help finance the emergency and production capital requirements and working capital of farmers.

As of Sept. 11, a total of 8,924 farmers in the six provinces of the region availed of the loan assistance program.

Odsey said Benguet farmers got the bulk with P150M or about 60 percent of the total allotment for the Cordillera under the E-SURE. The remaining amount was shared by other provinces.

Odsey said most of the beneficiaries in Benguet are flower growers.

The DA also assisted rice farmers in Kalinga, Apayao, and Ifugao.

Each of the 16,160 beneficiaries received P5,000 under the RFFAP.

Beneficiaries are rice farmers tilling between 5,000 square meters to two hectares.

Under the RRP, P72.5M worth of hybrid and inbred seeds were released to 34,375 farmers in the six provinces of the region. About 1,432 farmers also received fertilizer components and other farm inputs.

Odsey said the DA is requesting an amount from the Bayanihan 2 to be able to continue providing support to more farmers and fisherfolk nationwide.

Aside from financial and logistical support, the DA is also aiding farmers in selling their products.

DA-CAR Public Information Office chief Aida Pagtan said through the “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita,” producers (farmers) are linked directly to consumers.

The project assisted 3,991 farmers mostly from the vegetable growing areas of Benguet; Bauko, Mountain Province; and Tinoc, Ifugao. A total of 837.37 metric tons of assorted vegetables with a total market value of P22,474,562 were sold under the program.

“Kadiwa on Wheels” is a partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry and the local governments of Baguio and Benguet, which is added to the rolling store program of the agency. Seven farmer groups sold 2.7 tons vegetables generating gross sales of P958,860.

“Kadiwa Retail” is a store within the DA compound in Guisad, Baguio City where farmers bring their products for sale to the public. A total of 19,093 kilos of products worth P1,445,738 were sold.

Pagtan said the DA immediately responded to farmers woes from the start of the lockdown.

Tuluy-tuloy ang gobyerno sa pagtulong sa mga kababayan natin. Ginagawa ng ating pamahalaan ang makakaya nito para maibsan ang paghihirap ng mga mamamayan lalo na ang mga farmers na nagbibigay ng pagkain sa ating hapag-kainan,” Pagtan said. – PNA