NEDA assures half of RCEF will go to rice farm mechanization
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has assured that bulk of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which will come from the tariffication of rice imports, will be used to modernize rice farms and support the government’s goal of increasing the sector’s productivity.
The Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act No. 11203, which liberalized rice importation in the country, mandates the establishment of RCEF, which guarantees the rice sector P10-billion financial support annually for the next six years beginning 2019.
According to the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) recently signed by NEDA, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of Agriculture (DA), half of the RCEF, amounting to P5 billion annually, will be used to procure rice farm equipment by the government through the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).
Equipment such as tillers, tractors, seeders, threshers, rice planters, harvesters, and irrigation pumps will be given as a grant-in-kind primarily to eligible farmers, rice farmer associations, and registered rice cooperatives.
“Modernizing the rice industry has a multiplier effect on the economy. It will not only make our rice farms more efficient and productive. It will also push the demand for farm equipment up, thereby boosting the manufacturing industry and creating more jobs for Filipinos,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.
PhilMech is required to procure from accredited manufacturers whenever feasible to support the local manufacturers of farm machines and equipment.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) will receive 30 percent of the RCEF to develop, propagate and promote inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and organizations of rice farmers.
The Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines will be given 10 percent of the fund for the creation of a credit facility with minimal interest rates and collateral requirements.
The remaining 10 percent of the RCEF 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.
NEDA said tariff revenues in excess of P10 billion will be used for providing direct financial assistance to small farmers, titling of rice lands, expanding crop insurance, and carrying out of crop diversification programs.