Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Seed Deliveries In The Philippines Reach One Million Amidst Lockdown

DA PhilRice reports that they have delivered more than 1 million bags of certified inbred rice seeds were already delivered to rice-producing cities and municipalities. (Photo by DA-PhilRice)

QUEZON CITY (June 2, 2020) - With agriculture playing significant role in the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)-Seed Program announced that more than 1 million bags of certified inbred rice seeds were already delivered to rice-producing cities and municipalities.

The seed deliveries, according to Flordeliza H. Bordey, deputy executive director of Department of Agriculture – Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice), is almost half of its seed distribution target this planting season.

“We have delivered 1,128,368 bags and with help from Local Government Units, we have distributed 439,545 bags to more than 113,000 farmers,” Bordey said.

Reaching 64% of its target municipalities in two months, Bordey said the seeds were delivered to 51 provinces, which would be planted in about 126,000ha.

“This milestone is truly remarkable as it was achieved despite the difficulties in logistics and transportation, quarantine rules constraining staff mobility, and banning of mass gathering in light of COVID threat,” she said.

Bordey said the provincial governors and city/municipal mayors through agriculture officers led the seed distribution amidst community quarantine.

“They helped us in continuing the momentum and in achieving this program’s milestone,” she said.

The PhilRice economist also further mentioned that seeds were given to farmers through barangay scheduling and that physical distancing was strictly observed.

“As the country’s health workers continue to fight as frontliners to ensure our health and safety, it is also comforting that the rice farmers and agriculture industry workers in the government and private sectors work together to ensure food security of the nation. We can call them the ‘backliners’,” she noted.

Compared with farmer-saved seeds from previous harvest, the certified inbred seeds distributed under the RCEF program could yield 10% or more as these seeds have high seedling vigor, pure, and uniform crop stand.

The increase in yield, Bordey said, helps in ensuring enough supply of rice and in improving farmers’ competitiveness especially under the society’s new normal.

Sec. William Dar, said that business unusual is the new normal after COVID-19. He stressed that in this new environment, survive, reboot, and grow are the guiding principles.

“We need to improve efficiencies in production, and enhance projects and activities to ensure affordability and availability of food supply. With the help of the private sector and LGUs, we hope to improve our productivity and food supply chain,” the DA chief said.

The RCEF-Seed Program, the government’s intervention to enhance farmers’ competitiveness in a free trade regime, aims to distribute more than 2.5 million bags of high-quality seeds to more than one million Filipino rice farmers, which is about twice the total number of bags distributed and beneficiaries reached by the Institute when it rolled out the program in October 2019.

Farmers listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) and are practicing transplanting method can receive 1 bag (20kg each) of seed for every half hectare of cultivated area up to a maximum of 6 bags for those who have rice fields larger than 2.5ha.

Meanwhile, farmers practicing the direct-seeding method can receive 2 bags of seeds for every half hectare.

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 the farmers compete in the international rice market.

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 prri.mail@philrice.gov.ph. (Charisma Love Gado-Gonzales, DA-PhilRice)