RICE farmers earned an additional P7,000 pesos per hectare two years after the implementation of Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, the Agriculture department said.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar in a statement Friday credited increased harvests to the P10 billion-a-year Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which was created under the law.

“Farmers are… averaging 400 kilograms per hectare or roughly eight cavans at 50kg each which is equivalent to an additional income of P7,000 per hectare,” Mr. Dar said.

“This shows that with the use of certified seed, adoption of modern technology, and mechanizing land preparation, crop establishment and harvesting, farmers can attain incremental yields. At least two million rice farmers are now reaping and enjoying the initial benefits of the law,” he added.

Dionisio G. Alvindia, director of the National Integrated Rice program, said the RCEF budget for 2021 is currently scheduled for release.

“To date, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other implementing agencies have obligated P16.2 billion and disbursed over P7.1 billion from the P20-billion allocation from 2019 to 2020,”Mr. Alvindia said in the statement.

According to Mr. Alvindia, rice farmers using traditional home-saved seed recorded lower yields compared to those using certified inbred seeds.

He said traditional seed produced an average of 3.6 metric tons (MT) per hectare while inbred seed yielded 4 MT per hectare.

“To date, 674,400 farmers have received 1.68 million bags of free certified inbred rice seed. These were planted to 843,000 hectares in 948 RCEF municipalities nationwide, or 98.5% of the targeted 962 towns for seed distribution,” Mr. Alvindia said.

Baldwin G. Jallorina, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) director, said in a statement that 15,046 units of farm equipment have been procured out of the targeted 23,378 units.

Mr. Jallorina said 13,499 of the procured units have been distributed.

Meanwhile, the DA said P1.58 billion worth of RCEF loans have been disbursed to farmers’ cooperatives and associations. Some P968 million was released by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and P616 million by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

It added that 90 farm schools have been established, while 43 were upgraded since the law’s passage.

Passed in 2019, the law allows rice to be imported more freely but the commodity is charged tariffs of 35% on imports from Southeast Asia. Under the law, the tariffs provide P10 billion a year to RCEF to help modernize the rice industry. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave