By Armando Fenequito Jr.
DAVAO CITY – Senator Cynthia Villar vowed to hasten the creation of the rice competitiveness fund bill for the farmers who will be affected by President Duterte’s order to liberalizing rice importation in country.
In an interview during the International Banana Congress at SMX Convention Center here, Vilar said she will be pushing for the P10 billion rice competitiveness fund to help the farmers improve their production.
She said P5 billion of the fund will be for mechanization, P3 billion for seedlings development that could produce six metric tons per hectare instead of present four, P1 billion for their training on the use of the production machines and another P1 billion for credit.
“Kaya tayo hindi competitive kasi mahal ang labor cost natin (The reason why we are not competitive is because our labor cost is high) and when you’re labor cost is high you have to mechanize,” she said.
Villar said this could also encourage young people to venture into rice farming because it will now be easy with the use of modern equipment unlike the manual mode of farming.
“We will teach them to mechanize so that it will be easy for them to produce affordable rice,” she said.
She said the bill should be passed as soon as possible to help the farmers improve their rice production.
Villar said the country’s quantitative restriction of rice has already expired in 2017 and right now anyone can import rice as long as they could pay the tariff.