Land Bank’s support to rice farmers hits P7.5B

State-lender Land Bank of the Philippines continues in administering support programs for the Department of Agriculture as part of the rice tariffication law’s (RTL) implementation to help Filipino rice farmers.

In a statement on Wednesday, May 19, Land Bank said it has disbursed a total of P7.5 billion in loans and cash grants since the RTL, or Republic Act No. 11203, was signed into law two-years ago.

According to Land Bank, the total disbursements as of April 30, 2021, have benefitted 962,126 rice farmers.

Of the total, P1.03 billion in loans were extended to 6,218 eligible borrowers under the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF).

Available until 2024, Lands Bank will lend up to P500 million in credit assistance annually under ERCA-RCEF to rice farmers in 38 rice-producing provinces at affordable interest rates, with minimum documentary requirements.

The state-run bank has also released P2.52 billion in loans to 165,963 small rice farmers through the Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE Aid) Lending Program.

SURE Aid provides an immediate credit assistance of P15,000 per borrower with zero interest and no collateral to rice farmers who are tilling one hectare of land and below.

Meanwhile, under the DA’s Rice Farmer Financial Assistance (RFFA) Program, a total of 253,826 farmers were provided cash assistance amounting to P1.27 billion.

The RFFA is a P3-billion unconditional cash transfer program which aims to give P5,000 financial assistance each to rice farmers who are tilling 0.5 to 2 hectares of land.

In addition, Land Bank also released a total of P2.68 billion in cash grants to 536,119 farmer-beneficiaries under the DA’s Financial Subsidy to Rice Farmers (FSRF) Program.

Through the FSRF, small rice farmers tiling one hectare or less who are not covered under the RFFA Program are provided P5,000 cash subsidy to augment their production needs.

On February 14, 2019, President Duterte signed RA 11203 entitled, “An Act Liberalizing the Importation, Exportation, and Trading of Rice, Lifting for the Purpose the Quantitative Import Restriction on Rice, and for Other Purposes.”

The law provided a P10-billion annual support to rice farmers to help increase their productivity and income.