LA UNION – Rice growers in two municipalities in La Union expressed readiness this wet cropping season with the assistance from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) programs.

Alejandro Eduardo Baladad, one of the beneficiaries in Naguilian, said he is hopeful that the RCEF seeds will help him increase yield despite the incoming season’s threat on pest infestations.

Under the RCEF-Seed Program, farmers in Region I received free certified seeds of NSIC Rc 160, Rc 222, Rc 216, Rc 358, Rc 480, and Rc 402, which are moderately resistant to brown plant hopper and green leafhopper.

The regionally and nationally recommended varieties have an average yield of at least 5.4t/ha and potential yield ranging from 8 to 14t/ha.

Aside from these seeds, farmers also received copies of “Gabay sa Makabagong Pagpapalayan” through the RCEF-Rice Extension Services Program (RESP). The brochure contains recommendations from land preparation, seed germination, transplanting, nutrient management, and harvesting.

“We are grateful for these interventions as we’re confident that these will help us increase our yield and enhance our knowledge and skills on rice production,” Baladad said.

Willy Estabillo, Naguilian municipal agriculturist, said that RCEF seeds addressed the town’s inadequate supply of high-quality seeds.

“Now, farmers have easy access to certified seeds. Last season, farmers in irrigated areas here harvested 6t/ha while rice growers in rainfed areas reaped 5t/ha,” he said.

In Rosario, La Union, RCEF beneficiary Murino Soriano shared that his yield increased from 6 to 7.5t/ha with the RCEF seeds and learning from RCEF materials.

More than 8,000 bags of certified seeds were already distributed to about 4,500 farmers. The beneficiaries were also briefed on new rice farming practices while 1,500 copies of “Gabay sa Makabagong Pagpapalayan” were also circulated.

The RCEF-Seed and RESP are components of Republic Act 11203 or Rice Tariffication Law signed by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, 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. The local government units and lawmakers assist in its implementation. Farmers under this program can also avail of trainings, machines, and credit with low interest.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute