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DA to distribute 2M bags of rice seeds to farmers

The Department of Agriculture (DA) will provide seeds to rice farmers this year as part of mitigating measures to help those affected by the liberalization of rice trade under the Rice Tariffication law.

In a statement on Thursday, the DA said about two million bags of 20-kilo-per-bag rice seeds under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) are up for distribution.

Two million bags of rice seeds would roughly translate to one million hectares of rice land, which can contribute to increasing the yield up to six tons per hectare in high-yielding provinces by 2024, the Agriculture department said.

Under the Rice Tariffication law, quantitative restrictions on the importation of rice are removed, and it also imposed a 35-percent tariff on imports from neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

Also, it creates the RCEF amounting to P10 billion to support for local farmers through the provision of better farming tools, seeds, and other interventions to improve productivity.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that among the provinces that are considered for the program are those with high-potential for competitiveness.

“So far, we have identified 57 provinces based on the size of area harvested, yield level, cost of production, and share of irrigated area," Dar said.

These municipalities and cities must also have an annual area planted of more than 500-ha for dry season 2019-2020,” he said.

Farmer-beneficiaries are those listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).

Each farmer receives seeds for two consecutive cropping seasons until December 2020 and is entitled to a maximum of four bags of inbred seeds depending on farm size for the October to December planting season, according to the DA.

Dar said that prior to the distribution, farmers will be provided with technical briefings on seed preparation and other interventions and technologies from the Philippine Rice Research Institute for them to achieve the target yield in their areas.

“Farmers will also be given rice production manual and seed propagation booklet to help them achieve the yield potential of certified seeds," he said.

To expedite the implementation, the DA said it has already sought the assistance of the local government units (LGUs) to validate the farmer-beneficiaries listed in the RSBA, identify drop-off points and potential temporary seed storage facilities, and schedule the seed delivery.

The LGUs will also assist in seed delivery inspection and facilitate seed distributions. —Ted Cordero/LBG, GMA News