Workers of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) are receiving commitment from the local government units to ensure that the program will benefit farmers in their area, particularly on seed distribution.
“We pledge our full support for the RCEF-Seed. Ground works will be covered and that information regarding seed distribution will be properly coordinated and implemented by our municipalities. We wouldn’t do this just because we were requested, but primarily because we want to help our rice farmers,” Albay Gov. Francis C. Bichara said.
Under RCEF-Seed, local government units (LGUs) are requested to validate a master list called Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture or RSBSA by cross-checking the listed names with the list of members of farmer organizations in the city/municipality. Their assistance on facilitating or endorsing the accreditation of rice farmer organizations within their scope to DA-RFO are also sought.
They will also be tapped on identifying drop-off points and schedule for seed delivery and potential temporary seed storage facilities; assigning seed delivery inspector; announcing details of seed distribution; and facilitating seed distribution. Partnership on monitoring of area planted and yield and conducting social mobilization, communication, and capacity enhancement activities are also encouraged.
Bichara said that farmers will “continue to suffer [from the influx of cheap rice from the international market] if the government will not provide/subsidize farm machines, sustainable irrigation, and inputs.”
As of Sept. 5, 30 governors had expressed their commitment in buying, milling, and drying palay from the farmers in their areas. Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali announced the release of P250-M capital to fund the procurement of palay this wet season. Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Manotoc, Ilocos Sur Vice-Gov. Jeremias Sinsgon, and La Union Vice-Gov. Mario Ortega pledged P200M. Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino committed P300M.
In Isabela, its provincial government partnered with the National Food Authority to increase the buying price of palay from P20.40 to P26.40. Meanwhile, the municipal government of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro sourced out P6.8 million this wet season to purchase and distribute 8,990 bags of seeds to 3,741 farmers. Farmers also pay P760 for every 40kg of certified seeds, which is 50% less than the retail price.
Prior to the commitments, RCEF-Seed implementers engaged the local government units through series of consultations.
“We [made] 747 cities and municipalities in the 57 RCEF provinces aware of the program. With this partnership, yield and income of farmers are expected to increase, which will help boost economic development in the locality. The RCEF- Extension Services Program may also offer Training of Trainers and refresher courses to the agricultural extension workers,” said Dr. Flordeliza Bordey, PhilRice Deputy Executive Director and RCEF Program Director.
For more information, contact the Agricultural Training Institute’s Farmers Contact Center: 0920-946-2474.