By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which is where all the tariff collected from imported rice should go, has bankrolled the distribution of inbred rice seeds across 46 provinces.
A data from Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) showed that 46 out of the 57 target provinces have already received 341,203 bags of inbred rice seeds under the RCEF’s seed program. Each bag contains 20 kilogram of rice seeds.
The 46 provinces, which make up 81 percent of the program’s target, include 282 municipalities and cities with high-potential for competitiveness in rice production.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the provinces have been identified based on the size of area harvested, yield level, cost of production, and share of irrigated area.
These municipalities and cities have an annual area planted of more than 500 hectares for dry season 2019 to 2020.
Seed distribution is ongoing to cover the remaining 11 provinces including 703 municipalities and cities, while the remaining 1.76 million bags of seeds are scheduled for distribution this 2019 to 2020 dry season.
Among the rice seed varieties distributed include NSIC Rc 160, Rc 216, Rc 222, and two location-specific inbred varieties.
As part of the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, RCEF is supposed to be injected with ₱10 billion annually from 2019 to 2024 or a period of six years.
Aside from PhilRice, the funds are being utilized by implementing agencies that include the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech).
Right now, RCEF is also funding the training for farmers through the Rice Extension Services Program (RESP).