The withdrawal of the Department of Social Welfare and Development from the Corporate Rice Farming Program of the Department of Agriculture has brought creative schemes that have made the program more viable for the farmers and the service providers as well, Department of Agriculture field operation officer Grace Cenas said yesterday.
DSWD is supposed to be the distribution arm of the program for the rice subsidy of its PantawidPamilyang Pilipino Program, or 4Ps beneficiaries. President Rodrigo Duterte upon his assumption of office had ordered the addition of rice to the cash dole-outs to 4Ps members.
Cenas said that the gargantuan task of providing a depot for rice, hiring of additional people for its distribution, and other logistical matters have stopped the DSWD from entering into a Memorandum of Agreement with the DA and the service providers.
She said they have crafted another scheme to pursue the program and to benefit both the farmers and the 4Ps beneficiaries. Thisone includes the local government with which they will enter into an agreement with the service provider for the area in selling rice during the payment time which falls every two months.
In Negros Occidental pilot areas for the program are the LGUs of Pontevedra, Bago City, Valladolid and La Carlota. There are 34 farmers for an area of 200 hectares being managed by the Negros Occidental Farmers and Rice Millers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (NOFARIMCO), the service provider for the operation.
NOFARIMCO Chairman Jesus Jimenez said the new scheme is beneficial to the farmers especially because rice price will not be pegged from P32, the price agreed upon during the onset of the program. The scheme also presents viability and sustainability of the program since payment will be made on the spot.
“It's just like buying rice from the farmers who will directly benefit from the proceeds”, he said, adding that they will provide trucks for hauling and transporting of rice and employ people for its efficient distribution.
Cenassaid that, from her experience in roaming around the country for the program, most 4Ps beneficiaries she asked prefer good quality rice. Most said that being poor does not hinder them from buying and consuming good grade rice.
Jimenez said they will provide beneficiaries with quality rice at lesscost from the prevailing price in the market. With support services coming from the government next year, the NOFARIMCO plans will make their rice more affordable, he added.
Aside from 4Ps beneficiaries, NOFARIMCO, with the help of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division, will expand its marketing distribution to include institutional markets and big firms. “We will make a deal with the Ayala company for the rice supply of their employees”, Jimenez said
Jimenez said he also hope that, in the future, more farmers will have their farms enrolled in the program because of the dual benefits it gives—to the farmers and to the 4Ps beneficiaries.
“Time will come when sufficiency will speak of competitiveness, when farmers were able to cut production cost and sell their rice at competitive price even to our neighbours because of this corporate rice farming program of our government”, Cenas added.*
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