DA starts seed distribution under RCEF

RICE SEED PROGRAM. Agriculture Secretary William Dar (3rd from left) and officials of the various seed growers’ associations and cooperatives sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) Tuesday (Oct. 1, 2019) to ensure supply of high-quality inbred rice seeds. The distribution of inbred seeds to farmers is part of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the Rice Tariffication law. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Agriculture)

MANILA — In line with the implementation of one of the components of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), Agriculture Secretary William Dar has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with seed growers’ associations and cooperatives in the country to ensure the supply of high-quality inbred rice seeds.

“Yes, RCEF is now rolling out and October 1 is such a milestone for this program as we are now set to distribute two million bags of high-quality inbred rice seeds to our rice farmers,” Dar said during the MOA signing Tuesday.

The two million bags of seeds, each containing 20 kilos, will be planted to around one million hectares of rice land, and will benefit one million rice farmers in the country.

The seed growers’ associations and cooperatives that entered into an agreement with the Department of Agriculture (DA) are the Pangasinan Organic Seed Growers and Nursery Multi-purpose Cooperative, Isabela Seed Growers Multi-purpose Cooperative, Nueva Ecija Seed Grower Multi-purpose Cooperative, South Nueva Ecija Seed Growers Multi-purpose Cooperative, and West Visayas Federation of Multi-Purpose and Seed Producers Cooperative.

Dar said these cooperatives, accredited by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) National Seed Quality Control Services, are the top seed growers in the country that make up 25 percent of the total requirement and will supply the 2 million bags of high-quality inbred rice seeds under the RCEF seed program.

“They have outstanding track records and have been in the business for a long time. None of them are newly-registered, meaning, we have known them for a long time and they continue to step up their game to produce high-quality seeds that will help farmers to be productive,” he said.

“The 2 million bags of seeds that they will produce will be a tremendous boost to elevate the level of productivity in the countryside,” he added.

The seeds will be distributed among the 57 provinces with high-potential for competitiveness. This is based on the size of area harvested, yield level, cost of production, and share of irrigated area.

The municipalities and cities must also have an annual area of more than 500 hectares for the dry season 2019-2020. Eligible beneficiaries must be listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).

Each can receive a maximum of four bags of inbred seeds depending on farm size for the October to December planting season.

“With the seed program of RCEF, we would like the Filipino rice farmers to be more productive, more competitive, and more profitable at the end of the day,” Dar said.

To ensure that only high-quality rice seeds will be distributed to farmers, the DA chief said the regulation will be developmental oriented, with BPI constantly monitoring and overseeing that protocols and guidelines for seed production are followed.

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) will be assisting the rice farmers to achieve their optimum yield potential.

“The partnership will continue not only for the next six years. We will see to it that this will be a long-lasting partnership,” Dar said.

The MOA has a total value of PHP432.78 million, accounting for almost a quarter of the PHP2-billion fund released for the RCEF seed program. Lilybeth Ison/PNA- northboundasia.com