The Budget Department, through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, released P244.6 million to the Development Bank of the Philippines and P180 million to the Land Bank of the Philippines for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund-Credit Program.
The loans are to be released eventually to fund agriculture modernization and assist individual farmers and agriculture-accredited cooperatives and associations to cope up with the rice liberalization law.
For the RCEF-Seed Program, the Budget Department also released to the Philippine Rice Research Institute P2 billion to promote, acquire, and distribute certified seeds of NSIC Rc222, Rc160, Rc216 and 16 other location-specific varieties in the regions.
Funds for the mechanization and extension services programs will be available soon following the Budget Department’s issuance of the special allotment release order to Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, Agricultural Training Institute and Technical Skills Development Authority.
For seed distribution, farmers will be able to procure seeds on October for period covering the dry season of 2019-2020.
The project will cover 57 provinces, with a total area of more than 1 million hectares. Farmers will receive a maximum of 80kg of certified inbred rice seeds for two consecutive seasons, depending on the size of the farm.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar has instructed implementing agencies to speed up the rollout of RCEF assistance to rice farmers.
An agreement with local seed grower associations and cooperatives as seed suppliers is already in place to ensure the availability and positioning of seeds for October to December distribution.
The DBP signed a memorandum of agreement with Nagkakaisang Magsasaka ng Isabela Agricultural Cooperative and PayMaya Inc. to provide financial services to rice farmers through e-wallet cards.
“With the provincial government of Isabela, we are currently gathering data in barangays for bank account opening of beneficiaries,” Dar said.
Land Bank has received loan applications from 97 individual farmers and seven cooperatives with a total loan amount of P38.07 million.
The loans released were part of the P10-billion fund allocated for RCEF in 2019.