Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, in a press briefing on Wednesday, said the proposed PHP10-billion RCEF “is very critical to achieve growth in agriculture.”
As such, he said this should be released before the planting season in March for farmers to be able to plant on time.
The proposed rice tariffication law, now awaiting President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature, amends the 1996 Agricultural Tariffication Act that put quantitative restrictions on rice imports. Instead, rice can now be imported freely as long as the proper tariffs are paid.
The measure also provides a PHP10-billion Rice Fund which will be allocated as follows:
• 50 percent will go to the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Modernization (PhilMech) to provide farmers with rice farm machineries and equipment;
• 30 percent will be released to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to be used for the development, propagation and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and the organization of rice farmers into seed growers’ associations engaged in seed production and trade;
• 10 percent will be made available in the form of credit facility with minimal interest rates and with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives to be managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines; and
• 10 percent will be set aside to fund extension services by PhilMech, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for teaching skills on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and knowledge/ technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.
Piñol said the PHP10-billion RCEF, which would enable Filipino farmers to export their rice at globally competitive price levels, would be implemented annually over the next six years, he said.