THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has identified seed growers’ cooperatives and associations that will supply certified in-bred seed to rice farmers as part of input distributions authorized by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

Mabibigyan natin sila (Distribution will be) staggered from October to December” to account for the varying planting periods, depending on availability, Flordeliza H. Bordey, the deputy executive director for special concerns who is overseeing the implementation of RCEF, told BusinessWorld after the signing ceremony for the memorandum of agreement (MoA) between the DA and the seed growers on Tuesday.

The MoA is worth P432.78 million, out of the P2 billion allocated for the seed program under the RCEF.

The seed growers are the Pangasinan Organic Seed Growers and Nursery Multi-purpose Cooperative; Isabela Seed Growers Multi-purpose Cooperative; Nueva Ecija Seed Grower Multi-purpose Cooperative; South Nueva Ecija Seed Growers Multi-purpose Cooperative; and the West Visayas Federation of Multi-purpose and Seed Producers Cooperatives.

In a statement, the agriculture department said two million bags of rice seed of 20 kilos each will be planted to one million hectares with an initial 57 provinces targeted for seed assistance.

To qualify for RCEF assistance, individual cities and municipalities must have more than 500 hectares of harvested land during the dry season planting in the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Qualified farmers must be listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA). Each farmer will receive a maximum of four bags of in-bred seed depending on the size of the planting area.

“With the Seed Program of RCEF, we would like the Filipino rice farmers to be more productive, more competitive, and more profitable at the end of the day,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang