In the second year of the Rice Tariffication Law, Senator Cynthia A. Villar said the implementing agencies of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund continue to deliver their commitment to insure the availability of affordable and quality rice to consumers.
Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said Tuesday this resulted in an increase in the productivity and incomes of rice farmers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RTL or Republic Act 11203, signed in 2019, liberalized rice imports and imposed a tariff of 35 percent on imports from Southeast Asia.
Villar said the law also provides capital for RCEF amounting to P10 billion annually for the next six years.
The RCEF, the senator said, should be allocated and disbursed as follows: Mechanization Program – P5 billion; Rice seed development, propagation, and promotion – P3 billion; Credit assistance – P1 billion; and Rice extension services – P1 billion.
Villar said RCEF covers the 42 inbred rice-producing provinces across the country, covering 656 municipalities.
The 2020 palay harvest is 19.4 million metric tons (MMT) or 3.3% more than the 18.81-MMT output in 2019 and surpasses the previous high of 19.27 MMT in 2017.
This is a rice adequacy level of 90 percent; average harvest per hectare is 4.09 MT of palay.
The senator said the yield recorded for the period October-December 2019 was 4.1 metric tons per hectare, vs. the 3.9 metric tons per hectare yield recorded for the period October-December 2018.
According to PhilRice, under the RCEF, P3 billion is set aside yearly for certified inbred seeds at 40 kg per hectare and distributed free.
In 2020, 674,400 farmers received 1.68 million bags of free certified inbred rice seeds. These were planted to 843,000 hectares in 948 RCEF municipalities nationwide, or 98.5 percent of the targeted 962 towns for seed distribution.
For March 2021, DA-PhilRice reported that it had already achieved 100 percent seed deliveries for the dry season. The RCEF-Seed program has distributed almost 1.7 M bags of high-quality inbred rice seeds to 957municipalities from the target 55 provinces all over the country.
More than half a million farmers-beneficiaries received 20kgs/ bag, in coordination with LGU partners, to cover 789,267 hectares.
Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization distributed P5-billion worth of farm machinery and equipment to qualified farmers’ cooperatives and associations.
PhilMech studies show that mechanizing rice production operations, from land preparation to harvest, can reduce the production cost of palay by P2 to P3 per kilogram (kg).
For loans, a total of P1.584 billion was lent to hundreds of FCAs in RCEF program areas, being served by Land Bank of the Philippines at P968 million and the Development Bank of the Philippines (P616 million).
The DA-Agricultural Training institute, PhilMech and PhilRice receive a yearly allocation of P100 million each from RCEF for training and extension of farmers, technicians and other rice industry stakeholders. TESDA has a yearly budget for extension amounting to P700M.