MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) foresees farm production growth at 2.5 percent in 2020 with the full implementation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), a component under Republic Act No. 11203, otherwise known as the Rice Tariffication Law.
“(We will have) full rollout (of the RCEF) next year. (Growth target) should be between two to three percent – 2.5 percent average,” Agriculture secretary William Dar said in a press briefing on Tuesday at the Agricultural Training Institute in Quezon City.
Dar said the implementation of the RCEF will be a “big factor” in improving rice production in the country especially during the August 2019 to July 2020 harvest season.
He said the P10-billion RCEF for this year has been fully allotted and undergoing obligation to relevant activities of the various components.
Out of the P10 billion, about 32 percent or P3.2 billion is now obligated for the distribution of inbred seeds, farm mechanization, and training of farmers in rice-producing provinces.
Dar said the DA has started distributing certified inbred rice seeds to eligible beneficiaries, which is expected to help farmers achieve five to six tons per hectare yield as compared to four tons per hectare they are producing now.
“We hope to elevate the yield average (of farmers) to five to six metric tons (MT) (per hectare) so they can compete to our ASEAN neighbors like Vietnam and Thailand,” he said.
Around 2.12 million bags of certified inbred seeds will be distributed in 57 rice-producing provinces covering 1.06 million hectares in 947 municipalities.
“This is the right time of the year (that) such intervention (to) start. We would like to believe that for the next six years, properly implemented RCEF will make the rice farmers more productive, competitive and more prosperous,” Dar added.
Also part of RCEF, aside from the distribution of certified inbred seeds, is the availability of farm machinery and postharvest facilities to farmers’ cooperatives and associations.
Around 1,200 to 1,600 FCAs nationwide will benefit from the program which the Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization aims to start distribution by December.
President Rodrigo Duterte enacted the Rice Tariffication Law in February this year removing quantitative restrictions on rice imports and setting a 40-percent tariff for shipments from non-ASEAN countries if imports are below 350,000 MT; 180 percent if imports are from non-ASEAN countries and above 350,000 MT; and 35-percent tariff for shipments from Southeast Asia.
Under the Rice Tariffication Law, the government has earmarked P10 billion annually for the RCEF in six years.
From this fund, P5 billion will be allocated to rice farm machinery and equipment, P3 billion for rice seeds, P1 billion for expanded credit assistance, and P1 billion for rice extension services such as training for farmers.(PNA)