THE Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said it is set to distribute 1.8 million bags of certified seed to more than 740,000 farmers in 42 provinces for wet-season planting.

The distribution will be conducted between March 16 and Sept. 15. Planting is estimated to take place on at least 830,000 hectares.

Beneficiaries are eligible for one 20-kilogram sack of seed for every half hectare tilled.

The participating provinces include Ifugao, Kalinga, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Zambales, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Albay, Masbate, Sorsogon, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Biliran, Western Samar, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay.

“This is our sixth season of implementation. Through a series of surveys, we found that there were gradual increases in the yield of our target provinces. While this cannot be credited solely to the program, we recognize that the certified seed greatly contributed,” PhilRice Program Management Office Director Flordeliza H. Bordey said in a statement.

Between 2019 and 2022, PhilRice distributed around 8.62 million bags of seed to more than 1 million farmers across five cropping seasons.

The distribution is supported by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Seed Program. RCEF is a component of Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, which sets aside P10 billion from rice import tariff collections every year to upgrade the competitiveness of rice farmers.

Farmers must be enrolled in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture to be eligible for seed distribution. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson