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 was planted with farmers’ home-saved seeds. This was 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 on Feb. 15-18.

Rabaca also said that farmers in their area are thankful to Sen. Cynthia Villar who sponsored the Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act 11203, which allots P10 billion fund every year for the rice farmers to help them compete in the international rice market.

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 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 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.

Remin Sardo, municipal agriculturist of San Marcelino, Zambales, one of the municipal awardees, said the program established convenient implementation mechanisms not only for DA-PhilRice but also for the LGUs.

“During the pandemic, the program was able to adjust its operations accordingly like allowing authorized representatives and arranging location-specific delivery and distribution, to better cater to us and to the farmers. We are happy that even our farmers from the indigenous people’s communities can be served,” he mentioned.

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.

Jomar Guevarra, municipal agriculturist of Candaba, Pampanga, also affirmed the help of the RCEF-Seed Program to the farmers in their municipality.

“Through the program, the farmers were able to receive their certified seed needs on time. Even those from the farthest areas were reached by RCEF [Seed] because the distribution was done per barangay. We have also seen an increase in our production yield because of the quality of the seeds and the good characteristics of the varieties that are being distributed,” Guevarra noted.  

The Davao Multi-Purpose Seed Producers Cooperative was also recognized as the best partner-seed cooperative of the Program as it delivered 100% of its commitments in the delivery of certified seeds for four consecutive seasons under the regular seed distribution, and more than 96% through the Binhi e-Padala system. Special citations were also given to Abagon Compact Farm and Seed Growers Multi-Purpose Cooperative and Lanao Del Norte Seed Growers Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

DA-PhilRice Bicol station also won the first place for the Best PhilRice RCEF Unit for the 2022 dry season, and PhilRice stations in Batac and Nueva Ecija placed second and third, respectively. DA-PhilRice is the government’s lead agency on rice research and development mandated to help ensure a rice-secure Philippines. With stations across the country, its programs and projects are in line with the DA’s “Masaganang Ani, Mataas na Kita” battlecry.

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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