In line with the implementation of Republic Act no. 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Act, a total of 25, 904 rice farmers and their dependents have completed various Rice Extension Services Program (RESP) training programs in 2020 from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). 
 
This was after TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña signed a circular in September 2019 detailing the implementing guidelines on RESP activities to be carried out by the agency through its regional and provincial offices. 
 
Section 13 of RA 11203 creates the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) or the Rice Fund, which entails the government to allot an annual P10-B budget for the next six years to several concerned agencies, including TESDA, to help improve the Filipino rice farmers’ competitiveness, productivity, and income amid the liberalization of the Philippine rice trade. 
 
TESDA, under the RESP cluster, is tasked to “teach skills on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and knowledge/technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.” 
 
Rice farmers and their dependents have undergone training on farmers field school on production of high-quality inbred rice and seed certification, and farm mechanization; rice machinery operations, drying and milling plant servicing; service motorcycle and small engine system; and, solar powered irrigation system operation and maintenance. 
 
Some of the graduates also received training on carpentry, electrical installation and maintenance, welding and masonry which can help them in attending to their warehouses or their farm machineries especially when minor repair work is needed. 
 
Under the RESP, scholars will receive a P160 daily allowance, and free training and assessment, including entrepreneurship training and insurance. 
 
With this, Lapeña urged farmers and their dependents to avail programs under RESP and vowed to work with government agencies and private sector to provide them more training. 
 
“Patuloy tayong magtulungan sa mga susunod pang taon, para sa pag-unlad ng ating agrikultura, lalung-lalu na sa pag-unladng ating mga kababayang magsasaka,” he said. 
 
Under Lapeña’s leadership, TESDA has listed agriculture as among its priority sectors. 30% of its scholarship budget is allocated for skills training on agriculture and other agri-related courses. 
 
Last March 16, Lapeña issued a memorandum directing Regional and Provincial Directors to establish Farm Field School in their respective TESDA institutions, particularly those located in 57 provinces that are recipients of RCEF. 
 
“The Farm Field Schools shall provide applicable technologies needed to improve the capabilities of farmers as they shift from the traditional method to modernized system of rice planting. These schools will also boost their competitiveness to help make the country’s agriculture sector more viable,” he had said.

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