About 70,000 farmers in the Ilocos Region will receive 114,000 bags of certified inbred rice seeds from March until June under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) – Seed Program.
Farmers can select from national recommended varieties, which include NSIC Rc 216, 222, and 402 and regional recommended varieties such as NSIC Rc 160, 358, and 480.
Studies show that use of high-quality seeds can increase harvest by 10% or more as these seeds have high seedling vigor and purity and ensure uniformity of crop stand.
From 2021to 2022 dry season, Department of Agriculture – Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) Batac and its partner agencies had distributed 265,926 bags planted in 115,637-ha fields of the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) farmers in Region 1.
Implementers of the RCEF Seed Program also established 18 technology demonstration sites involving 166 farmer partners. Called PalaySikatan, the technology demonstration farms showcase recommended varieties including newly-released rice varieties. Machines such as walk-behind and riding-type mechanical transplanters, and combine harvesters are also introduced to reduce production cost.
Moreover, Gabay sa Makabagong Pagpapalayan leaflets, PalayCheck System primers and booklets, and 2022 Tekno Kalendaryo were distributed to farmers, farm schools, and farmer trainees under the RCEF Rice Extension Services Program (RESP).
RCEF, which is a component of Republic Act 11203 or Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte, allots P10 billion fund every year for the rice farmers. Sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Villar, the program is a six-year government initiative to help the farmers compete in the international rice market. The local government units and lawmakers assist in its implementation.
PhilRice leads the RCEF Seed Program and is the government’s lead agency on rice research and development, mandated to help ensure a rice-secure Philippines. With eight stations across the country, its programs and projects are in line with the DA’s “Masaganang Ani, Mataas na Kita” battlecry. (Franzel Monique Bonilla, PhilRice)