Local government units (LGUs) in the 42 target provinces of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Seed Program were recognized for their outstanding contribution in the rollout of the certified seeds to the rice farmers.

In distributing the seeds, Crisostomo Rabaca, provincial agriculturist of Zambales said that the systematic implementation of the RCEF-Seed Program enabled them to properly perform on the ground.

“Your agency’s system — from planning, delivery, distribution, up to monitoring and evaluation, is convenient for us and friendly for our farmers. More importantly, RCEF greatly contributed to the increase of high-quality seeds utilization in our province. Around 16% of our total area harvested in 2018 were planted with farmers’ home-saved seeds. This reduced significantly to 5% in 2019, and in 2021, it is only at 0.06%! We commit to continue working with you as we aim to achieve 100% high-quality seed utilization this 2022,” Rabaca pronounced during the program’s annual review and workshop held this week.

According to Dr. John de Leon, executive director of the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice), the combined efforts of the Institute, its partner-LGUs, other implementing agencies, seed growers’ cooperatives and associations, and the legislators were instrumental in achieving the program’s goals amidst the pandemic.

“All the hard work we’ve done together in RCEF (and the DA’s National Rice Program) has paid off. Together, we have enabled and empowered our rice farmers to achieve yet another milestone. For the second year in a row, our rice farmers produced an all-time high record production of 19.96 million metric tons of palay,” he said.

Dr. Flordeliza Bordey, DA-PhilRice RCEF Program Management Office head, reported that based on analysis, the contribution of RCEF-Seed to the country’s overall rice production for the 2021 dry and wet seasons (DS / WS) is estimated between 15% and 23%. Its contribution to the production of its target provinces can be as high as 38-59%.

In 2021 DS, 1.65 million bags were distributed to more than 600,000 farmers. In 2021 WS, 1.76 million bags were distributed to more than 700,000 farmers. The total area planted with RCEF seeds for both seasons reached 466,578ha and 572,203ha, respectively.

During the review, which was hosted in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, the provincial and municipal/city LGUs and their respective local agriculture offices, which achieved high rates of seed delivery and distribution under set categories, were awarded with plaques and certificates of appreciation.

Kalinga, Biliran, and Maguindanao topped the provinces under the small-scale category, or those with a seed allocation of 20,000 bags and below. Zambales and Davao del Norte also won in the medium-scale category or those with the allocation of more than 20,000 and less than 40,000 bags. Pampanga, South Cotabato, and Surigao del Sur ranked first in the large-scale category or those with more than 40,000 bags allocation.

City/municipal (C/M) LGUs were also awarded based on their percent delivery and distribution.

Small scale C/M LGUs had an allocation of 1,000 seed bags or below. Winners in this category include Aguinaldo, Ifugao; Pugo, La Union; Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya; Dinalungan, Aurora; Patnanungan, Quezon; San Jacinto, Masbate; Malay, Aklan; Corella, Bohol; and Kawayan, Biliran. Recognitions were also given to the representatives of San Miguel, Zamboanga del Sur; Calamba, Misamis Occidental; Caraga, Davao Oriental; T’boli, South Cotabato; Barobo, Surigao del Sur; and Buldon, Maguindanao.

Medium scale C/MLGUs had more than 1,000 but less than 5,000 bags allocation. Recipients were Rizal, Kalinga; Bantay, Ilocos Sur; Nagtipunan, Quirino; San Marcelino, Zambales; Siniloan, Laguna; San Fernando, Masbate; and San Enrique, Negros Occidental. Cited municipalities also include Biliran, Biliran; Alicia, Zamboanga Sibugay; Baroy, Lanao del Norte; New Bataan, Davao de Oro; Banga, South Cotabato; Remedios T. Romualdez, Agusan del Norte; and Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Large scale C/MLGUs had more than 5,000 bags allocation. Awardees include Tabuk City, Kalinga; Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya; Candaba, Pampanga; Oas, Albay; Panay, Capiz; and Calbayog City, Western Samar. Efforts of the implementers in Diplahan, Zamboanga Sibugay; Salvador, Lanao del Norte; New Corella, Davao del Norte; Surallah, South Cotabato; and Tago, Surigao del Sur were also lauded.

The RCEF-Seed Program is a component of Republic Act 11203 or Rice Tariffication Law, which allots P10 billion fund every year for the rice farmers. Sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Villar, the program is a six-year government initiative to help farmers compete in the international rice market.

DA-PhilRice leads the RCEF-Seed Program and is the government’s lead agency on rice research and development mandated to help ensure a rice-secure Philippines. With eight stations across the country, its programs and projects are in line with the DA’s “Masaganang Ani, Mataas na Kita” battlecry. For more information about the Institute’s program, queries can be sent thru PhilRice Text Center (0917 111 7423) or email http://prri.mail@philrice.gov.ph.//