P1B rice aid to boost prod’n in WV

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The Department of Agriculture is looking forward to increasing rice production in Western Visayas by 10 percent from its 2019 yield with the support extended to farmers amid the Covid-19 pandemic under its Rice Resiliency Project (RRP).

The department has allocated P1.06 billion in assistance for rice farmers in Western Visayas under the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act, Agriculture Regional Executive Director Remelyn Recoter said yesterday.

Three sub-projects of the RRP were implemented in the region, including the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), the Expanded Inbred Rice Production, and the Expanded Hybrid Rice Production in Suitable Areas that will benefit around 210,000 local rice farmers.

The regional office also procured hybrid and inbred varieties suitable for the wet season and approved by the National Seed Industry Council while the central office handled the procurement of fertilizers.

A total of 359,756 bags of inorganic fertilizers were allotted to RCEF beneficiaries to complement the distribution of inbred seeds covering 179,878 hectares of targeted rice areas in the region.

Certified seeds were earmarked for 15,000 hectares of rice plantation under the Expanded Inbred Rice Production subproject, together with 30,000 bags of fertilizer.

Those who utilize good seeds or home-saved seeds will also be provided with fertilizer support of about 65,148 bags, good for 32,574 hectares of rice area.

Hybrid seeds were distributed under the Expanded Hybrid Rice Production subproject for 68,234 hectares. This is on top of the regular allocation from the National Rice Program covering 11,766 hectares.

A total of 240,000 bags of inorganic fertilizer will also be partnered with these hybrid seeds.

Recoter said that, as of Thursday, almost 72 percent or about 502,000 bags of the 604,000 bags of fertilizer allocated for the region have been delivered.

For Negros Occidental, 29,056 bags of fertilizer were released and 5,515 bags of hybrid seeds were distributed to farmers.

“We are hoping that by end of July the deliveries will be completed,” she said.

Around 153,000 bags have been distributed to almost 75,000 farmers through various drop-off points in the region.

The procurement of 15,000 bags of certified seeds for Guimaras and Capiz is completed. She added that 9,541 bags or almost 70 to 71 percent of the target distribution have been released to 7,614 farmers.

The distribution of hybrid seeds is also ongoing. As of Thursday, 25,000 bags out of the 68,000 hybrid seeds have been released to 16,136 farmers.

“Hopefully by end of July, we will be at 80 percent,” she said, adding that some farmers are still in their land preparation as the planting in the region has been delayed by one and one-half to two months due to late onset of the rainy season.

Recoter said that if the weather cooperates, then they look forward to around 200,000 metric tons additional production this year from last year’s 2.077 million metric tons.

“Our expectation is 10 percent additional production for the wet season,” she said.

Currently, the region’s rice sufficiency level is at 117 percent.

“At least we are assured of our staple food. We can likewise provide other regions of their deficit,” she said.

The increased production would also mean an increase in the region’s share to the national output. Currently, the region shares around 11 to 12 percent of the national production.

Recoter said it was the first time that the government has extended massive subsidy to farmers, which could help reduce their cost of production in terms of seeds and fertilizers.

She added that other than increasing sufficiency level, the DA is also looking into the uncertainty in rice importation due to Covid-19.

Under the Rice Tariffication Law, the private sector could already import rice from Vietnam and Thailand, the major exporting countries.

“Due to Covid, it is not only the Philippines that is affected. One reason that we should increase our production is to minimize our dependency on imports,” she said.*PNA/MPE

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