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PH farmers to supply rice to 4Ps beneficiaries

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved a proposal to give locally-sourced rice to beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) instead of an outright cash grant under the scheme.

Iin a Facebook on Tuesday, October 4, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the President approved his proposed  "Corporate Rice Farming System" on Monday.

Piñol said that under his proposed scheme, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) “will provide financing to both the LGUs and farmers' cooperatives so they could provide hybrid or certified seeds, fertilizers and inputs to the rice farmers in their localities.”

The farmers’ produce will be bought at a government support price, processed and sold at a “Bigasan ng Masa” outlet located in every local government unit. The rice outlet will primarily serve 4Ps beneficiaries.

Aside from the government-provided quality seeds and fertilizers, Piñol said this scheme would “provide a direct link between the farmers and an assured market and could be considered a form of contract growing.”

“Filipino farmers have been at the mercy of the traders and middlemen who control the buying price of their produce. In the absence of efficient drying and storage facilities, the farmers are forced to sell their produce at prices dictated by the traders,” he said.

The Duterte administration has allotted a P23.4-billion rice subsidy for 4Ps beneficiaries, on top of the P49.4 billion budget for 4Ps in 2017. Rice subsidy for 4Ps beneficiaries is among the promises that the President made in his first State of the Nation Address.

Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon had earlier proposed that the rice subsidy be given to the beneficiaries in the form of outright cash grants as if they are given rice or rice voucher, "the poor would just sell it to traders at the lowest price."

A cash grant would also give the families more spending flexibility based on their needs, he said. Drilon had also noted the additional administrative cost of the proposed rice subsidy, as well as the "logistical nightmare" that it entails.

During the budget hearing of the Department of Social Welfare and Development at the Senate on September 21, Secretary Judy Taguiwalo agreed with Drilon's proposal of an outright cash grant over a rice subsidy to 4Ps beneficiaries.

On Tuesday, Piñol countered Drilon's proposal during the Department of Agriculture's budget briefing at the Senate.

 

"Karamihan ng ATM ng 4Ps beneficiaries nakasangla na nga eh, iyon pa kayang ibibigay mo na pera? Eh di wala ring mangyayari diyan. Ang purpose ng pagbibigay ng gobyerno ng bigas ay para makakain sila. Ngayon kung bibigyan mo ng pera at hindi pinangbili ng bigas, defeated ang purpose," Piñol said.

 

(Majority of 4Ps beneficiaries are pawned and then you'll give them cash? Nothing will come out of that as well. The purpose why the government will give them rice is for them to eat. Now if you give them money and they will not buy rice, the purpose is defeated.)  – Rappler.com  

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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