THE bulk of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) will be used to modernize rice farms and support the government’s goal of increasing the sector’s productivity, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said.
Republic Act 11203 mandates the establishment of the RCEF, which guarantees the rice sector P10 billion in financial support annually for the next six years beginning 2019.
According to the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) recently signed by Neda, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of Agriculture (DA), half of the Rice Fund, amounting to P5 billion annually, will be used to procure rice farm equipment by the government through the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).
Equipment such as tillers, tractors, seeders, threshers, rice planters, harvesters and irrigation pumps will be given as a grant-in-kind primarily to eligible farmers, rice farmer associations and registered rice cooperatives.
As a result, the existing outlay of the DA on farm mechanization for rice is expected to have an additional P5 billion allocation from only P1.92 billion in 2018.
PhilMech is required to procure from accredited manufacturers whenever feasible to support the local manufacturers of farm machines and equipment.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) will receive 30 percent of the RCEF to develop, propagate and promote inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and organizations of rice farmers.
The Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines will be given 10 percent of the fund for the creation of a credit facility with minimal interest rates and collateral requirements.
Likewise, the remaining 10 percent of the RCEF will be used for skills training in rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and knowledge and technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.
This will be divided among training providers, such as PhilMech (10 percent), PhilRice (10 percent), Agriculture Training Institute (10 percent), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (70 percent). (PR)