Farmers from Bicol and Eastern Visayas now have improved access to high-quality seeds as four new seed grower cooperatives and associations (SGC/As) were recently accredited as certified seed suppliers of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Seed Program.

After their training, the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) in Ligao City, Albay has accredited Masbate Seed Growers, Inc; Bicol Seeds Grower Multipurpose Cooperative; and Bicolandia Seed Grower Association, Inc as seed suppliers.

Camsur Multi-Purpose Cooperative, San Isidro de Leyte Farmer’s Association, Eastern Samar Seed Growers Association, and Southern Leyte Seed Growers Association were also accredited following their training on inbred rice seed production and organizational management.

When RCEF first distributed certified seeds during the 2020 dry season, only 76,000 bags (at 20kg/bag) or 53% of the seed deliveries in both regions came from four local SGC/As. Most of the seeds for Eastern Visayas were from Central Luzon, while Bicol was supplied by Cagayan Valley. Logistics, mostly transportation cost, for this kind of arrangement was quite expensive,” Teodora Briones, DA-PhilRice RCEF Planning Division Head, said.

Currently, 11 SGC/As can already produce 100% of the certified seeds requirement of the RCEF Seed Program. These SGC/As have committed to supply 498,000 bags (at 20kg/bag) of certified or 100% supply for both regions this 2023 wet season. These benefit more than 200,000 farmers covering 229,000ha.

Before RCEF, farmers in these regions used home-saved seeds for planting, which are not guaranteed to be of high quality. With the local growers, certified seeds are already available and accessible to farmers even after RCEF,” the division head added.

The RCEF Seed Program is a component of Republic Act 11203 or Rice Tariffication Law, which allocates P3 billion fund every year to develop, propagate and promote high-quality rice seeds to help improve the competitiveness of the Filipino rice farmers. LGUs and lawmakers assist in its implementation. (Lalaine Perillo and Yobhel Louisse Beltran, PhilRice)