(Background photo courtesy of PhilRice.)

The implementation of the seed component under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) is now set.

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in a statement said the seed component is now set following the release of its guidelines submitted 59 days before the deadline.

Under the Republic Act 11203 or Rice Tarrification Law, the collected tariffs from imported rice supply will be allocated as RCEF to “make competitive Filipino farmers.”

The funds will be given to the Department of Agriculture (DA) to cover rice farm mechanization; inbred rice seed development, propagation, and promotion; expanded rice credit assistance; and rice extension services.

PhilRice Deputy Executive Director and RCEF Program Director Dr. Flordeliza H. Bordey said that the program will promote high-quality inbred rice seeds to farmers, as stated in the statement.

“Provinces with high potential for competitiveness will be considered. These areas are selected based on the evaluation of their size of area harvested, yield level, cost of production, and share of irrigated area. Selected areas must also have an annual area planted of more than 500 ha for dry season 2019-2020,” Bordey noted in the press statement.

According to PhilRice, farmers will receive seeds for two consecutive cropping seasons until December 2020. Implementers said that farmers can still avail of seeds once the target yield in their area is achieved.

Bordey, however, emphasized that only farmers who are enlisted in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) will be provided with free seeds.

The eligible farmers are entitled to a maximum of 80 kilos of inbred seeds depending on farm size for October to December planting.

The program director stated that they are targeting to distribute over 2 million bags at 20 kilograms per bag certified seed in 2019.

“We are targeting to distribute more than 2 million bags at 20kg/bag certified seeds this year. It roughly translates to planting around 1 million hectares of rice land. We expect to distribute more next season,” Bordey added.

It is also stated that the farmer-beneficiaries will be given rice production manual and seed propagation booklet to help them achieve the yield potential of certified seeds.

Varieties for distribution include NSIC Rc 160, Rc 216, Rc 222, and two location-specific inbred varieties.

She said they are requesting the help of the local government units (LGUs) to validate and enlist the farmers in RSBSA as LGUs will also identify the distribution areas and schedule.

“LGUs will be tapped to identify drop-off points and schedule for seed delivery and potential temporary seed storage facilities; assist in seed delivery inspection; announce details of seed distribution; and facilitate seed distribution,” as noted from Bordey’s statement.

It is also stated that the program has reached officials and agriculture workers in 53 provinces involving 672 municipalities as preparation for program implementation.

There will be technical briefings on seed preparation and PhilRice technologies to be conducted before seeds are given to farmers.

It is also stated that the seed component is hoped to contribute to increasing yield up to six tons per hectare in high-yielding provinces and five tons per hectare in medium-yielding provinces by 2024.

“The RCEF component programs also aim to help lower production cost by 30%, reduce post-harvest losses to 12%, and trim down marketing cost by P1/kg,” as stated.

For RCEF to be implemented from 2020 to 2025 dry season, it will be reviewed by the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization after six years.