Senator Cynthia Villar commends the Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Seed Program and co-implementing the RCEF-Extension Program.
Senator Cynthia Villar, author of the Rice Tariffication Law, said that the officers and staff of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), headed by Executive Director Dr. John C. De Leon, have done what is essential in serving the rice farmers. PhilRice is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on November 5, 1985 to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies for farmers.
The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Seed and Extension Programs has been given P3.1 billion every year starting 2019 until 2024 to help farmers compete with imported rice.
The seeds are distributed initially to 57 rice-producing provinces with high-potential for competitiveness. This is based on the size of area harvested, yield level, cost of production, and share of irrigated area. The municipalities and cities must also have an annual area of more than 500 hectares for the dry season 2019-2020. Eligible beneficiaries must be listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA). The program aims to increase the adoption of certified inbred seeds and integrated crop management through the following projects:
- Promoting and distributing certified seeds of inbred rice varieties
- Mobilizing and strengthening local seed production
- Supporting variety development
It is able to deliver high-quality inbred rice seeds, conduct extension work, and innovate in its approaches in achieving its mandate despite the pandemic. It takes sacrifices, especially because the cropping calendar is fixed and the communities that need to be reached have quarantine issues. They were able to evolve and respond well to deliver the high quality certified inbred seeds and the technologies needed by farmers to attain the best results.
In September 2019, the Agency engaged seed growers’ associations and cooperatives in the country to ensure the supply of high-quality inbred rice seeds was done by PhilRice. The seed growers’ associations and cooperatives are the Pangasinan Organic Seed Growers and Nursery Multi-purpose Cooperative, Isabela Seed Growers Multi-purpose Cooperative, Nueva Ecija Seed Grower Multi-purpose Cooperative, South Nueva Ecija Seed Growers Multi-purpose Cooperative, and West Visayas Federation of Multi-Purpose and Seed Producers Cooperative. These cooperatives, accredited by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) National Seed Quality Control Services, are the top seed growers in the country that make up 25 percent of the total requirement, and have outstanding track record.
The first roll out of free high quality inbred rice seeds was in October 1, 2019, where 1.38 Million bags were distributed to our rice farmers covering around 698,585 hectares of rice land, and benefitedhalf a million rice farmers in the country. Compared to farmer-saved seeds from previous harvest, the PhilRice/RCEF seeds have high seeding vigor, pure and has uniform crop stand.
Records show that the RCEF-Seed Program has distributed 6.5 million bags of certified inbred seeds to over 1.2 million rice farmers after four planting seasons of implementation. Each farmer can receive a maximum of four bags of inbred seeds depending on farm size for the October to December planting season. With free certified rice seeds, it is expected that farmers’ total production cost will be reduced by around 7%, and an increase in yield by at least 10% compared to good seeds or farmers’ saved seeds.
In December 2019, forty-six out of the 57 target provinces have received 341,203 bags (20kg/bag) of inbred rice seeds under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Seed Program as of recent data release by the DA-PhilRice. The 46 provinces, which make up 81 percent of the accomplishment, include 282 municipalities and cities with high-potential for competitiveness in rice production. Among the rice seed varieties distributed include NSIC Rc 160, Rc 216, Rc 222, and two location-specific inbred varieties.
As of July 31, 2021, distribution for the 4 cropping seasons totaled 6.5Million Bags of Certified Inbred Rice Seeds and has benefitted 1.2 Million Farmers.
PhilRice looks forward to increasing yield up to 6t/ha in high-yielding provinces and 5t/ha in medium-yielding provinces by 2024. According to Deputy Director Dr. FlordelizaBordey, the 2020 record palay harvest of 19.44 MMT is 3.3% more than the 18.81 MMT output in 2019. This was due to the increase average yield of 4.17MT/ha. vs. 2019 average yield of 3.62MT/ha. and the expansion of area planted by 80,000 hectares from the 2019 cover of 4.65 million hectares. The average increase in yield covered both irrigated and rainfed ecosystems.
Together with the other implementing agencies, the RCEF program aims to lower production cost by 30% reduce postharvest losses to 12%, and trim down marketing cost by P1/kg.The program also aims to renew the interest of farmers to continue producing rice for the country’s food security.
Senator Villar also thank PhilRice in its ingenuity by introducing the digital voucher system called Binhi e-Padala, which shortened the queueing time of farmers in getting the seeds, improve the program’s logistics, and facilitated the next-day payment to seed growers’ cooperatives.
Training and Extension
Under RCEF Extension, Villar also recognized the Institute‘s effort in disseminating rice technologies on inbred rice seeds production, cost-reducing and yield-enhancing practices through onsite and on line training activities, the distribution of IEC materials, and other communication platforms.
At the start of game, in 2019, PhilRice steadily increased the number of Trainers and tapped Agricultural Extension Workers, Farm Technicians and Farm School Owners by encouraging them to complete a 10-day course where they learn the concept of Palay Check System of producing high quality inbred rice and seeds and farm mechanization. The participants are encouraged to teach other farmers to boost their income and be competitive.
To date, 159 rice specialists and 618 trainers were produced under the DA-PhilRice’s RCEF training programs. The new trained rice specialists complement the pool of rice experts in a locality. All regions in the country are already deployed with 5-21 rice specialists each. A total of 628 farmers have graduated in the PhilRice led Season-long Farmers Field Schools nationwide PhilRice is showcasing the performance of certified inbred seeds through the mechanized technology demonstration of nationally and regionally recommended rice varieties established nationwide.
PalaySikatan, has established 114sites with 6-ha contiguous area each and selected to promote the mechanized production of the select varietiesmanaged by the seven PhilRice branch stations and the Central Experiment Station, these Techno Demo sites across the country. It has strengthened the partnership between PhilRice, DA-Regional Offices and LGUs in the 55 rice producing provinces nationwide.
PhilRice will provide P30, 000/ha for one cropping season to farmer-cooperators. This will cover inputs including seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and labor expenses for land preparation and transplanting, pulling of seeds, crop care and maintenance, agro systems analysis, harvesting, and other farm activities. Their skills on identifying, assessing and managing common pest and diseasesare strengthened via field diagnosis activity.
Techno Demo is under the RCEF-Seed Program, which is after helping the small-scale Filipino farmers to breeze through the new rice trade system.