By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Rice farmers will begin receiving free seeds and fertilizers at the start of the wet cropping season in May.
The Deparment of Agriculture (DA) will distribute inbred and hybrid rice seeds with fertilizers to both rainfed and irrigated areas, on top of the existing Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), and support to inbred and hybrid farmers under the National Rice Program (NRP).
The RRP farmer-recipients will receive seeds according to the size of their farmland, and fertilizers, at two bags per hectare for inbred and three bags per hectare for hybrid areas.
If the farmer’s total area exceeds the maximum three-hectare coverage under RCEF, the excess areas may be covered under the RRP.
DA Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes said that 1.2 million RCEF farmers will receive two bags of fertilizer per hectare, while 318,000 non-RCEF farmers will get two bags of fertilizer and inbred rice seeds per hectare. About 309,000 farmers using “good seeds” or seeds stored in houses will also receive two bags of fertilizer each hectare.
Those 465,000 farmers who are planning to cultivate hybrid rice can receive one bag of hybrid rice seeds and three bags of fertilizer per hectare, while 176,000 hybrid rice farmers may receive three bags of fertilizer per hectare.
The distribution of seeds and fertilizer will be conducted in time with the full implementation of the P8.5-billion Rice Resiliency Project (RRP) under the DA’s Plant, Plant, Plant Program in 16 rice-producing regions in the country this May.
“Achieving high productivity in rice entails an integrated system of crop management. The fastest-moving interventions that could provide quick results are the use of quality seeds and appropriate fertilizers. Hence, the RRP will provide said farm inputs to participating farmers,” DA Secretary William Dar said.
Under the RRP, the DA aims to produce an increment of more than 1.03 million metric tons (MMT) of rice, in addition to this year’s yield projection of 12.76 MMT.
“In all, we expect a total yield of 13.79 MMT of rice, bringing up our adequacy level from 87 percent to 94 percent. Every peso of investment in this project is worth for the noble purpose of ensuring enough food for all Filipinos during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” Dar said.