Cover Story


Biliran did it!

Jul 9, 2024, 1:41 AM
Joyce Kahano-Alpino

Joyce Kahano-Alpino


It is possible!

While rice prices in the region range from P46-P65, farmers in Biliran in Eastern Visayas are now selling their produce at P20 per kilo, the price President Bongbong Marcos promised Filipinos.

Biliran agriculture officer Lemuel Antonio said this is a way for the farmers to give back to the community after receiving several aids from the government.

Despite the very low selling price of rice, Antonio assured that farmers are not shortchanged and still gain from this.

“Farmers earn as much as 35 percent under this scheme. The P20 per kilo of rice is realistic under the localized food security program. All the assistance from the government, including incentives from the local government, is enough for them to be able to sell cheap rice,” Antonio told PNA.

Furthermore, a total of 470 farmers who are tilling a 700 hectare land worked together with the local government unit to come up with the scheme.

Farmers mill their rice instead of selling unhusked rice to private traders and it is made available in Kadiwa stores set up in villages on a weekly basis.

“We cut operational expenses by eliminating middlemen and mobilizing volunteers to bring and sell the rice in villages. Buyers are even asked to bring their containers or bags, not to add up to the selling cost,” Antonio said.

Subsidy and Aid

Farmers also get free fertilizer and a high-yielding variety of seeds from the Department of Agriculture.

Each bag of fertilizer costs P2,000, while a bag of palay seeds costs nearly P1,000.

From the office of Mayor Myra Cabrales, some farmers get more than one bag each of fertilizer and seeds on top of incentives for production.

Under the Rice Farmer Financial Assistance program, farmers also get P5,000 in unconditional cash assistance pledged by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

Since last year, with the guidance from DA and cooperation from the farmers, they have already sold 70 metric tons of rice in Biliran town, giving high priority to poor families with malnourished children.

“We don't even consider all this assistance a subsidy since these are regular government programs. Our farmers get support from the government. In return, they sell their produce at a lower cost as part of their social responsibility,” Antonio added.

Effective Strategy

Antonio has been meeting with local agriculture officers in Leyte and Samar provinces to convince them to adopt the strategy.

However, the question is when?

The scheme is a project that benefits the consumers and the farmers by properly utilizing the available government aid to its full extent.

If personal interests and "crab mentality" are disregarded, the project can be a success. (With reports from PNA)

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