By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
More than 1 million bags of certified inbred rice seeds have been delivered to rice-producing cities and municipalities to help farmers recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) Deputy Executive Director Flordeliza Bordey on Tuesday said the seed delivery is almost half of its seed distribution target this planting season.
Through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Seed Program, Bordey said, “We have delivered 1,128,368 bags and with help from local government units, we have distributed 439,545 bags to more than 113,000 farmers.”
Reaching 64 percent of its target municipalities in two months, the PhilRice official said the seeds – which would be planted in about 126,000 hectares of farmlands – were delivered to 51 provinces.
“This milestone is truly remarkable as it was achieved despite the difficulties in logistics and transportation, quarantine rules constraining staff mobility, and banning of mass gathering in light of COVID threat,” Bordey said.
Compared with farmer-saved seeds from previous harvest, the certified inbred seeds distributed under the RCEF program could yield 10 percent or more as these seeds have high seedling vigor, pure, and uniform crop stand.
Bordey explained that the increase in yield helps ensure enough supply of rice and in improve farmers’ competitiveness, especially under the society’s new normal.
The RCEF-Seed Program, the government’s intervention to enhance farmers’ competitiveness in a free trade regime, aims to distribute more than 2.5 million bags of high-quality seeds to more than one million Filipino rice farmers, which is about twice the total number of bags distributed and beneficiaries reached by the Institute when it rolled out the program in October 2019.
Farmers listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture and are practicing transplanting method can receive one 20-kilogram (kg) bag of seed for every half hectare of cultivated area up to a maximum of six bags for those who have rice fields larger than 2.5 hectares.
Meanwhile, farmers practicing the direct-seeding method can receive two bags of seeds for every half hectare.