By Mike U. Crismundo

BUTUAN CITY – Amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at least 38,000 farmers in Caraga region are set to receive financial assistance from the government.

These big number of farmers who are set to receive the cash aid are from the five province and six cities in Northeastern Mindanao or Caraga region.

The cash assistance will be distributed by the Department of Agriculture (DA-Caraga Region 13).

Under the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) Program of DA, qualified farmers will receive P5,000 pesos each.

The agency budgeted P96.4 million for the farmers in Caraga region.

According to DA-13 Caraga Regional Executive Director (RED) Abel James I. Monteagudo, the RFFA also intends to assist the farmers who are affected by the decrease of the price of the unmilled rice or palay in this crisis situation.

The DA-Caraga will continue to extend financial assistance to the farmer sector to help their families cope with the daily needs in this time of health crisis, the region’s top DA 13 official said.

Initially, more than 19,000 farmers in Caraga region had received the financial assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA), with a total amount of P96.4-million.

Some 4,637 farmers from the province of Agusan del Norte; 5,468 in Agusan del Sur; 5,018 in Surigao del Sur; while 4,155 in Surigao del Norte benefited the cash asdistance.

Director Monteagudo acknowledged the local government units for their effort to fast track the distribution of said aid to the farmers.

Apart from it, the DA also offers the survival and recovery loan assistance, wherein beneficiaries could pay within 10 years without any interest charge.

Another is the agricultural competitiveness enhancement fund, with only low-interest charge in order to help the sector cope with their daily expenses.

“The government will continue to assist our farmers, especially in this time of health crisis,” DA 13 Regional Spokesperson Emmylou T. Presilda also told The Manila Bulletin on Wednesday.