MORE than 300,000 bags of inbred seeds worth P3 billion have been given out to 46 provinces under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), the Agriculture department said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the agency said 282 municipalities and cities nationwide benefited from the program. The seeds accounted for 16% of the total 2.11 million bags that will be distributed in 985 cities in 57 provinces, it said.

These areas have an annual planted area of more than 500 hectares for the dry season 2019 to 2020, which began in October and will end in April, the agency said.

The 2 million bags of seeds will be planted in about 1 million hectares of riceland, which is expected to increase the yield to as many as six tons per hectare in high-yielding provinces by 2024, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in the statement.

The P3-billion seed distribution is one of the components of the P10-billion rice fund, which is financed by tariffs on rice imports.

The program aims to cut the country’s rice production cost of about P12 per kilo to make it more globally competitive.

Other components include P5 billion for rice farm equipment, P1 billion for credit assistance and P1 billion for developing farmers’ skills. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang