File photo: Rice farmers in Bayambang, Pangasinan

A member of the House of Representatives said the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) has helped addressed agriculture challenges and increased rice harvest during the last three years.

“RCEF is truly a game changer,” Quezon 1st District Rep. Wilfrido Enverga, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, said.

In his message during the recent RCEF Program Midterm and Midyear Assessment, Enverga who participated virtually, said RCEF helped address agriculture challenges including extreme weather conditions, rising prices of farm inputs locally and globally, problems in postharvest and marketing, aging farmers, and stiff market competition.

In addition to the DA’s [Department of Agriculure] annual budget from the National Rice Program, we are provided with a greater chance to provide more assistance and reach more beneficiaries through RCEF,” he added.

Citing the report published in April 2022, Enverga commended the RCEF as it was able to contribute in increasing rice production just within three years of its implementation.

Despite the challenges and changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, he congratulated RCEF on edging toward its goals of higher yield and lower production costs. Furthermore, it was successful in promoting lower seed requirement per hectare.

Rice has always been our food staple. I cannot emphasize enough the value of rice for the Filipino people. We recognize your hard work and dedication to our beloved farmers. Rest assured that we will continue to do our best, and provide support through sound policies and responsive legislative measures,” he said.

Meanwhile, farmer Jorge Acero of Siniloan, Laguna shared that being a farmer-cooperator under RCEF has changed his ways for the better.

In the same event, the 56-year-old farmer emphasized that the program has provided effective and long-lasting solutions for him and his fellow farmers.

There is an assurance that farmers will receive quality certified seeds for free. Modern machineries are also provided for farmers to use, credit lines with low-interest rates, and activities that provide additional information on how we can reduce our expenses in farming and increase our yield and income,” Acero said.

Last 2022 dry season, Acero harvested 168 cavans with an average weight of 55.3 kilograms/cavans or 9.29 tons/hectare by using certified inbred seeds of NSIC Rc 402 and Rc 436 varieties. He applied the farming practices he learned from the RCEF Seed Program’s PalaySikatan technology demonstration.

The RCEF is a component of Republic Act 11203 or Rice Tariffication Law. The law allocates P10 billion funds from the country’s rice tariff earnings every year to help farmers improve their competitiveness.

Mandated to help ensure a rice-secure Philippines, DA-PhilRice leads the RCEF-Seed Program. It is also the government’s lead agency on rice research and development.

Image credits: Laila D. Austria