THE Department of Agriculture’s potential partners from the private sector are eager to participate in the implementation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), a farm equipment and seed company said.

At a forum organized the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI), companies said they expect to play a role in rolling out projects under RCEF, the fund financed by rice import tariffs that hopes to boost the rice industry’s competitiveness via mechanization, improved seed and farm know-how, and expanded financing.

Chenyi Agriventures, which built a P1.7 billion plant in Alangalang, Leyte, said in a statement that it is eager to participate in many RCEF-funded activities and has asked the asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) to play a role in the seed supply harvest, dry processing, and distribution aspects of boosting the industry’s competitiveness.

“As one from the private sector, we’re very grateful for Secretary (Emmanuel F.) Pinol’s help. He loves our program. He said we will work together to help implement the Rice Fund,” an unidentified company representative was quoted in the statement as saying.

“Our proposal is currently with the DA. We discussed it at length with Secretary Piñol,” he added.

The Chenyi representative said it hopes RCEF programs are not structured as giveaways to farmers because free equipment might make them less motivated to maintain the equipment or learn how to properly use it.

“Farmers may opt to abandon or sell these if they do not know how to use it,” he said.

“Implementation is something the government is not good at. But the private sector can teach farmers how to plant seeds and monitor these daily. It can own and maintain the machines, and teach farmers how to use these,” Chenyi said in the statement.

The company also pointed out the importance of increasing productivity of rice farmers. “That rice prices will go down due to the rice tariffication law is only one concern. The most basic question is not whether price will go down, but that the yield of farmers remains low. Even if palay price goes up, farmers’ income is low,” it said.

The company hopes to reduce rice production costs in the Philippines to P6 per kilo from P14 per kilo. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang