ISSUES on farmland ownership and the farmers’ preference on the rice seedling varieties have prevented the full distribution of rice seedlings allotted for Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) in Davao City.
In the data from the City Agriculturist Office (CAO), only 585 out of 1,448 bags of rice seedlings for the city were distributed to 249 farmer-beneficiaries on December 5 to 6, 2019.
Under the Rice Tariffication Law, farmers must be enrolled in the Registry System for the Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA) to be eligible to receive rice seeds and among the requirements is the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (Cloa).
“Karon ang problema kay ang mga farmers, dili bitaw nila owned ang land. Naa silay mga amo. Ang proof of ownership, dili basta-basta makuha sa mga farmers. Maglisod man sila og kuha ana kay ang uban nga mga tag iya sa yuta mahadlok man nga basi makuha sa ila ang... naa silay pagduha-duha (The problem is that the farmers do not own the land they till and they cannot easily get proof of ownership because the owners are hesitant that land will be taken from them),” CAO rice program focal Narcisa Comiling citing a case in Brgy. Gumalang, Baguio District.
She said farmers in farmer organizations granted with rice seedlings must also achieve a target yield to qualify for the next seed distribution.
“Puhon, kani ra nga mga tao ang mahatagan usab. Wala nay lain (Only these farmers will be given seeds in the next cycle),” she said.
However, she added that farmer may hit the yield target if they use fertilizers.
“Posible nga maabot sa farmers ang yield using the seeds pero wala man ni dala nga fertilizer (The farmers can reach the yield using the seeds but there were no fertilizers that went along with the seeds),” she said.
“Kung maka-afford silag palit og fertilizer, gastuhan gyud nila. Unya pila ra may abot sa farmers kay usahay wala pud baya na silay mga kwarta pud (If they can afford to buy fertilizers, they will invest in it, but they are only getting meager income),” she added.
Apart from the land ownership issue, Comiling said, some of the farmers also want rice varieties other than the four varieties provided by the Philippine Rice Research Center (Philrice) – the RC222, RC216, RC160, RC286.
She said some farmers prefer to plant those that produce softer grains, can be sold at a high price, and resilient to pests and diseases.
Although RC160 can produce good quality grains, she said it is also prone to diseases like Tungro.
According to Rice Knowledge Bank, rice tungro causes leaf discoloration, stunted growth, reduced tiller numbers, and sterile or partly filled grains.
Comilang said the Philrice has conducted regional consultation but has already set the varieties beforehand which they consider high-yielding rice.
She said the remaining 863 bags of seeds which is equivalent to about 17 kilograms was brought by the Department of Agriculture to other areas for distribution.