Release farmers’ subsidies, Imee urges

September 5, 2022

Senator Imee Marcos has urged the Department of Agriculture to speed up the release of over P9 billion in government subsidies, particularly for rice farmers who are now preparing for the wet planting season this September to October.

“Don’t put farmers’ funds in a time deposit since they’re not meant to earn interest. Speed up the release, right now,” said Imee, eldest sister of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the concurrent head of the DA.

She reported that rice farmers, who have reached out to Marcos’s office, have complained that the P5,000 worth of cash aid allotted for some 1.6 million farmers was slow in coming, months after the Department of Budget and Management first announced its availability.

The Land Bank of the Philippines said the delay was allegedly due to the DA’s problem with its ID system.

If the DA lacks the capacity to update its RSBSA (Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture), then it should call on municipal agriculturists who ought to have a list of farmers’ cooperatives in their areas of responsibility,” said Imee, chair of the Senate Committee on Cooperatives.

About P18.9 billion in rice tariffs were collected by the government last year, allowing the allotment of close to P9 billion in additional farmer subsidies besides the P10 billion mandated under the Rice Tariffication Law.

Imee warned of low farm yields and even food shortages if farmers are unable to use their subsidies to buy fertilizers and other farm inputs.

“The DA is creating bigger problems for itself if it delays the release of farmer subsidies. Farm yields for the country’s staple crops cannot be maintained, much less increased, if farmers can’t afford fertilizers and quit their livelihood,” she explained.

She said that a farmer tilling one hectare to rice can save 25 percent to 33 percent on fertilizer costs with the P5,000 subsidy.

Farmers use from six to eight bags of fertilizer per hectare and will be spending P15,000 to P20,000 at today’s prices of urea fertilizer.

The tight global supply of fertilizer has sent local farmers reeling from prices that have tripled since 2020, from about P800 per 50-kilogram bag of urea to P2,300 to P2,500 this year.

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