Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. is seeking a P100-million loan assistance program to aid small farmers to cope with the effects of the Rice Tariffication Law.
Provincial Board appropriations panel chairman Member Domingo Oso Jr. said the Provincial Board is deliberating on first reading the governor’s proposed supplemental budget.
“We will be discussing this in principle. I am okay as to the assistance to the farmers,” said Oso (https://dailyguardian.com.ph/provl-board-reviews-p100-m-loan-package-for-farmers/).
The proposed allocation is included in the P1.3-billion supplemental Annual Investment Program (AIP) of the province, which will be the basis for a supplemental budget.
Rosalie Grace Sonza, the Capitol’s local revenue collections officer, certified the availability of proposed additional budget from the general fund to be taken from the “unappropriated surplus” in 2018.
Once approved, the Provincial Cooperative and Development Office will implement the program.
Under the proposal, the Provincial Capitol will offer zero-interest loans to accredited farmer cooperatives.
In turn, the coops will buy palay from small farmers at premium prices. Those small farmers refer to those tilling below one hectare of lands.
Some 7,953 out of the province’s 114,000 farmers are considered “small farmers.”
The proposed loan program was an offshoot of the provincial government’s call for the National Food Authority to set up mobile buying stations in municipalities to reduce the transport cost of farmers.
Eventually, the Provincial Board passed a resolution requesting the NFA to expand their buying stations in towns to cater to accredited cooperatives and local farmers.
Under the Rice Trade Liberalization Law, the Philippines will lift the quantitative restriction and allow the entry of imported rice with tariffs, which is 35 percent per ton of rice from Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) countries and 50 percent from non-ASEAN countries.