Tarlac farmers told to avail of RCEF assistance

CAMILING, Tarlac (PIA) — Government agencies led by Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) urge farmers from the first congressional district towns of Tarlac to avail of assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF). 

“We have RCEF today because of Republic Act 11203, which liberalizes the importation, exportation and trading of rice, lifting for the purpose the quantitative import restriction on rice and others,” Office of the Provincial Agriculturist Rice Program Focal Person Eduardo De Guzman said during an Information Caravan attended by about 220 farmers from the province’s northern municipalities.

About 220 farmers from Tarlac’s first congressional district towns attend the Information Caravan on the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund organized by the Agricultural Training Institute. (Gabriela Liana S. Barela/PIA 3)

RCEF aims to increase the harvest and profit of farmers for global competitiveness through its four components namely Seed Program, Mechanization Program, Credit Program and Extension Program.

Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) Science Research Specialist Magiting Garcia said farmers that are included in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture, member of a cooperative accredited by Department of Agriculture (DA) and owner of an agricultural land in their chosen municipality can be recipients of free seeds.

“Qualified recipients may receive seeds twice a year. Farmers with 0.5 hectare or smaller of land will receive 1 pack of 20 kilograms of seeds, 2 packs for 0.5-1 hectare of land, 3 packs for 1 to 1.5 hectares and 4 packs for more than 1.5 hectares,” Garcia said.

Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), for its part, will provide agricultural tractors, farm tillers, rice seeders and mechanical rice dryers and more to qualified farmers.

“The primary requirement for the mechanization program is a cooperative accredited by DA,” PhilMech Science Research Analyst and Field Officer Engineer Merlinda Teraldico said.

If farmers don’t qualify in the seed and mechanization programs, they may resort to the credit program of Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) which offer loan for as low as two percent interest rate per annum. 

And lastly under the Extension Program, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), PhilRice, PhilMech and ATI offer several trainings for farmers.

“We encourage you to enroll on the courses we offer regarding farming where you can learn for free and will be receiving allowances during the duration of your training,” TESDA Focal Person for RCEF Neila Alibuyog said.

Under the law, PhP10 billion per annum will be allotted for RCEF for the next 6 years wherein PhP5 billion will be for Mechanization Program of PhilMech, Php3 billion for the Seed Program of PhilRice, PhP1 billion for the Credit Program of LBP and DBP, and PhP1 billion for the Extension Program of TESDA, PhilMech, PhilRice and ATI. (CLJD/GLSB-PIA 3)