Salceda pushes for emergency fund for rice farmers

MANILA--Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has filed at the House of Representatives a measure seeking an emergency fund for rice farmers, affected by plummeting palay (unhusked rice) prices.

House Bill No. 5669 proposes a PHP8.4 emergency fund in the form of conditional cash transfers (CCT) as supplemental appropriation for the 2019 national budget.

"Congress is deeply concerned with the loss of farmers' incomes due to plummeting palay prices. While the entry of a record volume of rice imports is a major cause of the decline in the buying price of palay, the high cost of palay production is very much a contributor to this income loss too," Salceda said.

Under the bill, PHP7,000 shall be distributed to each affected rice farmer to compensate them for their loss due to the fall in palay prices at the farmgate.

Priority must be given in areas where palay prices have gone down way below PHP17 per kilo, rice cultivated land size of two hectares and below, and in major rice-producing provinces.

“Passing this bill is most urgent. But admittedly, this short-term intervention will all come to naught if we fail to unite and support our rice farmers, help them increase their productivity and competitiveness and take our national and local agriculture officials to tasks in implementing our food security programs,” Salceda.