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RCEF goes full throttle in Year 2

Author: DA Communications Group | 8 July 2020

The Department of Agriculture (DA) goes full blast in the implementation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), now on its second year, toward making rice farmers productive, cost-efficient and competitive, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are happy to announce that the RCEF program components remain in full swing, despite the restrictions brought about by the community quarantine. Now, more than ever, our farmers need RCEF and similar support to help them bounce back,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

The RCEF is created under the Rice Tariffication Law (or RA 11203), with yearly funding of P10 billion, for six years, starting in 2019, from tariffs collected from rice imports.

The DA oversees the implementation of RCEF in 968 municipalities and cities, in 55 provinces nationwide.

The P10-billion allocation is used to provide rice farmers certified inbred seeds (P3B), farm machinery and equipment (P5B), credit (P1B), and extension services (P1B).

For the mechanization component, the DA through the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) has to date distributed 189 farm machinery to qualified farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) in Bataan, Camarines Sur, and Zambales. These comprised of 97 four-wheel tractors, 63 combine harvesters, 16 riding type transplanters, five walk-behind transplanters, and eight rice reapers.

The agency has also procured 2,938 farm machinery and equipment, worth P2 billion (B) from the 2019 P5-B allocation, for distribution to 624 FCAs.

To date, PhilMech has shortlisted 2,566 FCAs, and started the bidding process for the remaining mechanization budget, while continuously delivering and distributing the procured machines under the 2019 budget.

For its part, the DA through the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has distributed 2,262,872 bags of certified inbred seeds (NSIC Rc160, Rc216, Rc222, and two other location-specific varieties) out of the 2,514,000-bag target.

The RCEF extension component is jointly undertaken by the DA’s Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), PhilRice, PHilMech, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The agencies have established 38 farm field schools (FFS) and conducted several batches of training for farm specialists (5), trainers (86), farmers (579), and seed growers, inspectors, analysts and other extension intermediaries (24).

“With the quarantine protocols, we have experienced the greatest challenge in the extension component since mass gathering has been restricted. Still, I commend our implementing agencies for devising alternative mechanisms to continuously enhance our farmers’ knowledge and skills through blended learning mechanisms,” Secretary Dar said.

TESDA has also awarded scholarship grants for 3,005 FFS, 576 rice machinery operation National Certificate II (NC II), 57 drying and milling service operation NCII, and 95 small engine service operation NCII.

To strengthen information dissemination, the extension component distributed 2,847,214 copies of information, education, communication (IEC) materials, and conducted 212 info caravans and 245 technical briefings prior to the quarantine period.

“We acknowledge the pressing need of our farmers so we continue to implement our programs for them. However, we also don’t want to sacrifice the safety of our beneficiaries and ground implementers alike. Rest assured our distribution protocols put safety on top,” he added.

The 2019 P1-B budget for RCEF credit component was already disbursed to farmer-borrowers by the Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines, at P500M each. For the P1-B 2020 budget, the Special Allotment Release Order and Notice of Cash Allocation were recently released.

For his part, DA field operations director Roy Abaya, who serves as RCEF national program coordinating team leader, said around P4.6 B of the total P15-B budget for 2020 has already been obligated. The fund included the 2019 P5-B budget for mechanization.

“By year-end, all RCEF budget for 2020 will be obligated and disbursed,” secretary Dar concluded. ### (Ace Velez, DA StratComms)

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