THE WAY FORWARD │ Level Up Philippine Agriculture!

RCEF enables rice farmers to produce and earn more

Author: DA Communications Group | 12 March 2021

Armed with much-needed support — like free seeds, farm machinery and training, and low-interest loans — at least two million rice farmers are now reaping and enjoying the initial benefits under the government’s Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) program.

“We are pleased to report for the first two years of implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) that created the RCEF, farmers are producing additional harvests, averaging 400 kilograms per hectare (kg/ha) or roughly eight cavans (at 50kg each), which is equivalent to an additional income of P7,000 per hectare,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

“This shows that with the use of certified seeds, adoption of modern technologies, and mechanizing land preparation, crop establishment and harvesting, farmers could attain incremental yields,” added the DA chief.

Rice farmers using traditional home-saved seeds can harvest an average of only 3.6 metric tons per hectare (MT/ha), while those planting certified inbred seeds under RCEF are now producing at least four MT/ha, said Dr. Dionisio Alvindia, director of the DA National Integrated Rice Program.

To date, 674,400 farmers have received 1.68 million bags of free certified inbred rice seeds. These were planted to 843,000 hectares in 948 RCEF municipalities nationwide, or 98.5 percent of the targeted 962 towns for seed distribution, reported Alvindia to Secretary Dar.

Under the RCEF, P3 billion is set aside yearly for certified inbred seeds, at 40 kg/ha per hectare, distributed free by the DA through its Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).

In addition, the DA through the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) distributes P5-billion worth of farm machinery and equipment (FME) to qualified farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs).

To date, 15,046 units of various FME were already procured out of the targeted 23,378 units. Of the total, 13,499 were delivered and distributed to as many FCAs, thus benefitting at least 1.35 million farmer-members, said DA-PhilMech Director Baldwin Jallorina.

Under the credit component, where P1 billion is allotted yearly, a total of P1.584 billion was lent to hundreds of FCAs in RCEF program areas, being served by Land Bank of the Philippines (at P968 million) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (P616 million).

Finally, under the extension and training component, tens of thousands of individual rice farmers and FCAs benefited through workshops, technical briefings, and training of specialists, trainors, farmers, seed growers and inspectors, and other extension intermediaries.

The DA-Agricultural Training lnstitute (ATI) and DTI-Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) have also established 90 and enhanced 43 other farm schools nationwide. The two agencies receive a yearly allocation of P500 million each from RCEF for training and extension of farmers, technicians and other rice industry stakeholders.

The RTL guarantees an annual budget of P10 B or P60 B for six years collected from tariffs of imported rice.

To date, the DA and other RTL implementing agencies have obligated P16.2 billion and disbursed over P7.1 B from the P20-billion allocation from 2019 to 2020, according to Alvindia, adding that RCEF for 2021 is due for release.

In all, Secretary Dar said: “As part of the observance of second anniversary of the RTL and RCEF, we commend the implementing agencies that continue to record significant milestones in carrying out their respective tasks to ensure the availability of affordable and quality rice to consumers, while increasing the productivity and incomes of rice farmers.”

The second RTL anniversary — themed “Sa Rice Tariffication Law, sama-sama tayong aasenso!” — will be held on March 22, in Samal, Bataan, featuring a simple program that will showcase the convergence among RCEF agencies.

In particular, it will highlight farmer-beneficiaries operating a combine harvester, a demonstration of seed distribution using a mobile application, called Binhi e-Padala, and testimonials of Bataan RCEF beneficiaries. ### (DA StratComms)

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