THE Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) said it formally launched a rice industry mechanization program backed by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

“With the formal launch of the projects and programs under RCEF, we at PHilMech welcome the opportunity to spearhead the modernization of the country’s rice industry through mechanization,” Dr. Baldwin G. Jallorina, director IV of PHilMech was quoted as saying in a statement on Tuesday.

“PHilMech also welcomes its collaboration with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines in undertaking the different major components under RCEF,” he added.

The government is required to support the modernization of the rice industry through tariffs collected from more liberal imports of foreign rice, which go into RCEF. The support will come in the form of mechanization, rice planting know-how, seed and financing.

PhilRice will be providing high-yielding inbred rice seed to farmers. ATI and TESDA will be conducting training for farmers and extension workers with the assistance of PHilMech which will provide training modules.

Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines will take on the credit component of the RCEF.

PHilMech expects to decrease the cost of producing palay in the country by P2-P3 per kilo.

“Based on studies by the Department of Agriculture, the cost of producing one kilo of palay (unmilled rice) in the Philippines is P12.72 per kilo while it is P6.22 in Vietnam and P8.86 in Thailand,” PHilMech said in the statement.

“PHilMech believes with the successful implementation of the different components under RCEF, the cost of producing palay in the Philippines can be reduced by P2 to P3 per kilo,” it added. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang