Speaking during the media forum held March 5 at the Rice Processing Complex (RPC) in Matanao, Davao del Sur, DA-XI Regional Technical Director Marila Corpuz said that the main goal of RCEF is to bring down the production cost which is way higher compared to other major Asian rice-producing countries.

Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data shows that Filipino farmers spend P12.00 to produce a kilogram of rice.

This is higher compared to the production cost of other neighboring rice-producing countries such as Vietnam at P6.53 per kilogram and Thailand at P8.85 per kilogram.

Out of the overall production cost, Filipino farmers spend more on hired labor, seeds and fertilizers and for draft animal, machine, fuel and oil.

“The PSA data noticeably indicated our farmers’ primary interventions needed to be competitive such as farm mechanization, seeds and fertilizers, financing and farmers’ technical skills training for which RCEF is expected to deliver on top of its usual support and services,” said Corpuz adding that for the next six years, the government allocates P10 billion every year for RCEF to address these needs.

Out of the P10 billion, P5 billion is allocated for farm mechanization support to reduce production losses from 14 to 12 percent of the harvest and to reduce the average farm production cost by 30 percent.

Certified inbred seeds are now given to farmers for free as part of the P3 billion fund allocated to increase the average yield to 6 metric tons (mt) per hectare in high-yielding provinces and 5 mt per hectare in medium-yielding provinces.

One billion will also be allocated for credit to help rice farmers in financing and another one billion will be for technical skills training.

RCEF in Davao region

As of February 2020, DA PhilRice distributed 101,484 bags of certified inbred seeds with national and regional varieties such as Rc160, Rc286, Rc222 and Rc216 for this planting season alone from November to April, benefitting 33,215 rice farmers from 34 rice-growing cities/municipalities in the region. Another batch will be distributed on the next planting season which will begin on May.

According to PHilMech Mindanao cluster head Domingo Miranda, the first batch of farm mechanization support which is 67.6 million worth of agri-machinery for Davao region will be released this month to registered farmer cooperatives and associations (FCAs) in 13 municipalities while the second batch which is 104 million worth of agri-machinery will be distributed to 20 municipalities in the region after the procurement process.

He said that there is no delay in the timeline of delivery since as a government agency, they are bound to the usual procurement process.

TESDA as one of the major implementer of the training component under RCEF has a total of 825 farmer-enrollees across the region for its RCEF scholarship program in Rice Machinery Operations NC II, Small Engine Servicing (COC) leading to Motorcycle/Small Engine Servicing NC II and Modified Farmers Field School (MFFS) expected to graduate this month.

The Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) recently conducted Training of Trainers and Seed Growers to develop pool of seeds experts and farmer-mechanics that rural farmers can tap should there be a need for agri-machinery repair.

Meanwhile, the Landbank has approved P459.63 million loans since the RTL implementation while DBP reported P283 million loan release across the country.
Corpuz said that aside from the creation of RCEF, RTL introduced various reforms to the country’s rice industry since its implementation and one of those is the proper identification of farmers through the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).

“Farmers are encouraged to be registered because only those farmers who are RSBSA-registered can avail these interventions. With this, we can assure the public when it comes to the transparency of this program as it is only given to identified farmer-beneficiaries,” said Corpuz.

The media forum was conducted to commemorate the first anniversary of the Rice Tariffication Law.