BAMBANG, Nueva Vizcaya: Secretary William Dar of the Department of Agriculture (DA) led the launch of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund-Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RCEF-RFFA) in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan on Wednesday, October 27.

According to the DA-Regional Field Office 2 (DA-RFO2), about P350 million under the RCEF-RFFA has been transferred to the Development Bank of the Philippines for 69,118 targeted farmer-beneficiaries in the region.

About P197.1 million has been awarded to endorsed beneficiaries as of this month.

DA-RFO2 Executive Director Narciso Edillo said they have endorsed 39,421 farmer-beneficiaries under the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture.

During the launch, Dar said the fund was the fruit of the Rice Tariffication Law or RTL, signed a year ago.

"[N]ow it is coming to you. I am glad to say also that despite the series of calamities last year, we have attained 90 percent of the target toward food sufficiency," he added.

Edillo said Dar also awarded P1.5 million to 60 farmers through the DA Agricultural Credit Policy Council's Survival and Recovery Loan Program.

According to him, small farmers and fisherfolk, affected by Typhoon "Maring" (international name: "Kompasu"), have availed of financing assistance under the loan program of up to P20,000 per borrower.

"There is no interest, no collateral, and [the loan is] payable in 10 years," Edillo noted.

He said Dar also turned over P56.3 million worth of water impounding and solar-powered irrigation projects, among others, to various towns of Cagayan province.