CERTIFIED SEEDS. The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) has distributed some 272,019 bags of certified seeds to 85,567 farmers in the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Zambales this wet season. This was under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Seed Program which aims to help lower costs and increase the yield and income of farmers. (Photo courtesy of the DA-PhilRice) 

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – Over 85,000 farmers in Central Luzon received certified seeds this wet season through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Seed Program.

RCEF Program Management Office head Flordeliza Bordey said on Friday the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), in partnership with the local government units (LGUs), distributed some 272,019 bags of certified seeds to 85,567 farmers in the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Zambales.

The seed program is one of the four components of the RCEF under the Rice Tariffication Law which aims to help lower costs and increase the yield and income of farmers.

Bordey said this was the sixth season of the RCEF program which resulted in gradual increases in the yield of target provinces

“While this cannot be credited solely to the program, we recognize that the certified seeds greatly contributed. Thus, we strive to keep improving our operations so that the beneficiaries would receive the provision properly and on time, and eventually reap the benefits of using certified seeds. With the challenges that our farmers are facing today, they need all the kind of support they can get,” she said in a statement.

Aside from increased yields, some of the program’s farmer-beneficiaries also value their reduced production cost because of the free certified seeds.

“Because the seeds are already free, the budget is reallocated to fund our household needs and children’s schooling. Also, because the seeds are high quality, my harvest increased from 80 to 100-120 cavans (per hectare),” RCEF seed beneficiary Porfirio Panlaqui of Mexico, Pampanga said.

“RCEF seeds produce several tillers. From 50-70 cavans, I can now harvest 100-130 cavans. I have then saved my seed fund for other farm inputs,” farmer Danilo Pundo of Dipaculao, Aurora, said.

Bordey urged rice farmers to register in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture as it is the basis of the LGUs in determining the qualified program beneficiaries.

Each beneficiary can receive one sack or 20 kilograms of seeds for every half hectare.

The RCEF-Seed Program is a component of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, which allocates PHP10 billion funds every year for rice farmers.

Sponsored by Senator Cynthia Villar, the program is a six-year government initiative to help farmers compete in the international rice market. (PNA)