P31.46-M aid allotted for rice farmers in Davao Region

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 May) – A total of  P31.46 million has been provided to rice farmers in Davao Region who will be affected by the implementation of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, a measure that eliminates import restrictions on rice, more than two months ago.

Jose D. Pascua, focal person for the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management of the Department of Agriculture (DA)-11, said the assistance, which would be used for seed intervention, is part of the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) established by RA 11203, to modernize the rice industry and increase its productivity.

He said the agency would also be providing assistance for the mechanization of rice farms under the RCEF.

National Economic Development Authority-Davao director Maria Lourdes Lim said modernizing the rice industry is necessary to support the local rice farmers by providing them pre-harvest and post-harvest equipment.

She said the government would play a key role in helping modernize and improve the productivity of the local rice farmers through the RCEF implementation.

She said part of the annual RCEF fund would be allocated to “procure rice farm equipment, including tractors, threshers, rice planters, harvesters, and irrigation pumps and will be given as a grant-in-kind primarily to eligible farmers, rice farmer associations, and registered rice cooperatives.”

At least 30 percent will be given to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to develop, propagate and promote inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and organizations of rice farmers; 10 percent will be given to Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines for the creation of a credit facility with minimal interest rates and collateral requirements; and 10 percent will be used for skills training in rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and knowledge and technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.

Lim said the projects for irrigation development and farm-to-market roads must be pursued to help in the production of rice and the transport of products from the farms to the markets in the region.

The performance of the agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing (AHFF) sector improved by 2.9 percent in 2018, registering a total output of P42.610 billion, propelled by the growth in agriculture and forestry subsector, which posted a 3.5-percent increase last year, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

Output in the fishery, however, decreased to P1.9 billion last year from P2.059 billion in 2017.

The AHFF contributed at least 10.6 percent to the gross regional domestic product of the Davao Region. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)