Despite an influx of rice imports due to liberalized trade, the Department of Finance (DOF) on Thursday said local farmers’ yields have improved thanks to financing for productivity enhancement programs.

The average yield of palay farmers during the dry season has increased from 3.65 tons per hectare to 4.22 tons per hectare as a result of the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law in 2019 to 2021,” the DOF said in a statement, citing data from the Department of Agriculture (DA).

In the wet season, the average yield rose from 3.69 tons per hectare in 2019 to 4.03 tons per hectare in 2021, or by 9.2 percent,” the DOF said.

This improved domestic rice production, observed even despite bad weather, was attributed by the DOF to the financial and technical assistance to farmers under the annual Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF). The Rice Tariffication Law sets aside money for RCEF through import tariff collections.

Of the yearly P10-billion RCEF budget, P3 billion is allotted for the free distribution of inbred certified seeds. Another P5 billion is allotted to the free distribution of farm machinery and equipment, and P1 billion each for credit support and training of farmers and extension,” the DOF noted.

From March 2019 to present, the government through the Bureau of Customs (BOC) collected a cumulative P46.6 billion from rice import duties.

The DOF recently reported that these rice tariffs had “assured the government of continuous and sufficient financing support” for RCEF intended for badly hit farmers. (Ben O. de Vera, INQUIRER.NET)