DA says benefits of P10-B farmers’ fund to be felt starting yearend
MANILA, Philippines — The benefits of the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the Rice Liberalization will slowly be felt by farmers by yearend until February 2020, Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director Roy Abaya said Monday.
Abaya presented the agency’s timeline on the implementation of RCEF during the meeting initiated by the House committee on agriculture and food.
Based on the timeline, the delivery of the four components of RCEF under Republic Act. No. 11203 — Rice Farm Machineries and Equipment; Rice Seed Development Propagation and Promotion; Expanded Rice Credit Assistance; and Rice Extension Services — would begin from October until February 2020.
“Tama po kayo. ‘Yung initial release for RCEF ngayon pa lang po [masisimulang] mararamdaman,” Abaya told Quezon 1st District Rep. Wilfrido Enverga, chair of the panel.
Abaya said the start of delivery of agricultural machinery and equipment would begin by December until February 2020 as the bidding process for such is bound to start only in September this year.
The farm machinery and equipment is 50 percent of the P10-billion RCEF fund or P5 billion, which would be implemented by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization.
The finalization of eligible farmers for seed distribution is seen on September, according to Abaya, while the delivery and distribution of 2.12 million bags of certified seeds in 57 provinces and 747 municipalities and conduct of briefings would be held from October to December.
The seed development component is 30 percent of RCEF or P3 billion and would be implemented by the Philippine Rice Research Institute.
Abaya said the release of P1-billion worth loans to qualified farmers and cooperatives by the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines is seen from September to December. This loan program is 10 percent of the total fund.
Meanwhile, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Agricultural Training Institute’s establishment of learning sites and conduct of training programs with a P1 billion budget will be held from September to December.
DA Usec. Ariel Cayanan who represented DA Sec. William Dar in the House briefing said that on top of the programs under the RCEF, the agency would also provide P15,000 loan assistance for farmers severely hit by the impacts of the lifting of the quantitative restrictions on imported rice. He said this loan program has zero interest and would be payable in eight years.
In the same briefing, various farmers’ group lamented the plunge in palay price in some parts of the country.
“Ngayon lang po kami nakaranas na mas mahal pa ang darak kaysa sa palay,” United Broilers Raisers Association President Elias Inciong lamented.
Ignacio Ortiz, a farmer from Nueva Ecija and representative of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, meanwhile blamed the implementation of the Rice Liberalization Law. RA 11203 was approved on February 14, and its implementing rules and regulations were approved in June.
“Anim na buwan pa lamang magmula ng isabatas ang Rice Liberalization Law ngunit delubyo na ang dulot sa mga magsasaka sa buong bansa,” Ortiz said.
“Isang tunay na reporma sa lupa na may sentral na layuning wakasan ang monopolyo sa lupa at ipamahagi ng libre ang lupa sa mga magsasaka… ang totoong magpapaunlad sa produktibidad ng pagsasaka,” he added. /jpv
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