THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has partnered with major seed growers’ associations and cooperatives in the country for the nationwide distribution of high-quality inbred rice seeds to farmers affected by the government’s rice tariffication program.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said his department was set to distribute 2 million bags of these seeds, including NSIC Rc222, Rc160, Rc216 and 16 other location-specific varieties, to the regions.
The seeds in these bags, which weigh 20 kilograms each, will be planted in around 1 million hectares of rice lands and will benefit a million rice farmers in the country, he added.
The groups that signed agreements with the DA on the seed distribution are the Pangasinan Organic Seed Growers and Nursery Multipurpose Cooperative, Isabela Seed Growers Multipurpose Cooperative, Nueva Ecija Seed Grower Multipurpose Cooperative, South Nueva Ecija Seed Growers Multipurpose Cooperative, and West Visayas Federation of MultiPurpose and Seed Producers Cooperative.
These cooperatives, accredited by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) National Seed Quality Control Services, are the top seed growers in the country that make up 25 percent of the total high-quality inbred rice seed requirement under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) seed program.
“They have outstanding track records and have been in the business for a long time. None of them are newly registered, meaning we have known them for a long time and they continued to step up their game to produce high quality seeds that will help farmers to be productive,” Dar said.
“The 2 million bags of seeds that they will produce will be a tremendous boost to elevate the level of productivity in the countryside,” he added.
The Agriculture chief explained that the seeds would be distributed among the 57 provinces with high potential for competitiveness, considering the size of the area harvested, yield level, cost of production and share of irrigated area.
The municipalities and cities must have an annual area of more than 500 ha for the dry season 2019-2020, he added.
Eligible beneficiaries must be listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), a nationwide database of information of farmers and fishers from the country’s various provinces, which serves as the basis for some of the government’s support programs.
Each can receive a maximum of four bags of inbred seeds depending on farm size for the October-December planting season.
The latest partnership has a total value of P432.78 million, accounting for almost a quarter of the P2-billion fund released under the RCEF seed program.
“The partnership will continue not only for the next six years. We will see to it that this will be a long-lasting partnership,” Dar said.
The RCEF component of Republic Act 11203, or the “Rice Tariffication Law,” calls for a P10-billion fund a year for six years, which will be utilized to provide different forms of assistance to the country’s rice farmers such as the development of inbred rice seeds (P3 billion), the development of rice farm equipment (P5 billion), skills enhancement (P1 billion) and credit (P1 billion).