THE Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said it co-developed with PayMaya Philippines, Inc. and other groups a digital voucher system that will simplify seed delivery and distribution to rice farmers.

In a recent online event, PhilRice, PayMaya, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and the Nueva Ecija Seed Growers Multipurpose Cooperative unveiled the “Binhi e-Padala” system, which will dispatch claim codes to farmers via mobile phone. It will also serve as a record of seed claims and releases.

Digital vouchers can be used to redeem certified inbred rice seed from outlets of the Nueva Ecija Seed Growers Multipurpose Cooperative.

PhilRice Deputy Executive Director Flordeliza H. Bordey said the digital vouchers can also assist in project monitoring and reporting to enable faster payment settlement with the cooperative via the DBP, the authorized depository bank for the project.

“With this innovation, we hope to promote the more efficient and timely conduct of seed distribution activities, in which farmers’ transaction time is reduced, and payment for our partner-seed growers is hastened,” Ms. Bordey said.

DBP President Emmanuel G. Herbosa said the voucher system will play a crucial role in supporting the agriculture sector during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“It’s an initiative that is timely as we are facing a global health crisis that has affected many sectors including agriculture. The project will help our government address those challenges. Moreover, we need to ensure the nation’s food security in a post-lockdown future,” Mr. Herbosa said.

The initial implementation of the voucher system will be in October, in time for the dry season initiatives under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund — Seed Program.

The system will be pilot-tested in the Nueva Ecija towns of Aliaga, Bongabon, Cabanatuan City, Cuyapo, General Natividad, Guimba, Licab, Llanera, Lupao, Nampicuan, Quezon, Rizal, San Jose City, Science City of Muñoz, Sto. Domingo, Talavera, and Talugtug.

It will also be implemented in parts of Tarlac, including Gerona, Paniqui, Pura, Ramos, Tarlac City, and Victoria.

“Binhi e-Padala is expected to benefit around 5,000 farmers in the pilot areas,” PhilRice said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave