PIGCAWAYAN, North Cotabato—President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday, January 10, led the ceremonial distribution of P58-million worth of agricultural assistance to farmers in Soccsksargen, providing them with much needed relief as they confront multiple challenges.
President Duterte, together with other government officials, arrived in Soccsksargen to hand over farm inputs and machinery to farmers from Cotabato province, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani province.
In distributing the agricultural assistance, the President said the support extended to the farmers is a major step towards the common goal of ensuring greater efficiency in the agricultural sector and at the same time addressing pressing issues confronting farmers in the region.
Friday’s event, in his speech during the event, reaffirms the administration’s continuing commitment to ensure food security while upholding the welfare of farmers.
Among the farm equipment turned over by President Duterte include six four-wheel drive (4WD) tractors, five rice combine harvesters, 27 hand tractors, and fertilizers, among others.
“It is my hope that the farm inputs and machineries to be distributed today will reinforce the short and long term solutions that we have already implemented that aim to raise greater productivity and competitiveness in the agricultural sector,” said President Duterte.
The President also extended financial assistance to the farmers through the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) cash cards worth P5,000 each. One hundred rice farmers from Libungan, Cotabato, received the financial aid.
The government will maintain regular consultations with the sector in order to determine its needs, the President said, assuring the farmers of his continuing support.
He also promised to invest in much needed infrastructure such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, farm equipment and other tools aimed at increasing rice productivity.
At the same time, the President pitched for the continuous implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law, assuring farmers that the law will help strengthen the country’s economy and provide more opportunities for the agricultural sector.
“To our dear farmers, let me take this opportunity to encourage you to give the Rice Tariffication Law a chance. Let me assure you that in the long run, this measure will not only help strengthen our economy, but will also provide new opportunities for your sector,” he said.
To improve the skills of the farmers, the Chief Executive encouraged them to undergo trainings being offered by the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
The government also looks at improving the productivity of Filipino farmers, he said. “I am pleased that through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, the Philippine Rice Research Institute has started the distribution of inbred rice seeds to farmers nationwide.”
“These are only among the various programs we are undertaking to help our farmers cope with the present decrease in rice prices by enabling a faster rollover of NFA rice stock and freeing up warehouses to accommodate palay from local farmers,” he added.
President Duterte then called on local government officials to further intensify their support to the farmers by helping them maintain the farm equipment and machineries provided by the government.
Breaking down the assistance of the national government to Soccsksargen, Cotabato Province received P16, 832,386; South Cotabato Province, P11,712,655; Sultan Kudarat, P19, 400, 928; and Sarangani Province, P10,102, 223. PND