Press Release
February 19, 2019

Program to Improve Rice Productivity and Mechanization launched at Villar SIPAG Farm School

Sen. Cynthia Villar today welcomed participants and government officials to the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (Villar SIPAG) Farm School in Bacoor, Cavite for the launching of the Program to Improve Rice Productivity and Mechanization for Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Organizations.

The program is being launched to prepare for the implementation of the law amending Republic Act (RA) No. 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996, which replaces the quantitative restriction on rice with tariffs.

The program is a joint undertaking of Villar SIPAG, Department of Agriculture (DA), Deparment of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, said with the implementation of the Rice Tariffication law, more comprehensive training programs on farm mechanization and new technologies the better inbred seeds will be held to reach more farmers. Villar SIPAG farm school has started conducting trainings of this kind since last year.

"This is the mechanism being prepared by the government to support farmers as we enter a tariffied system and rice imports start flooding the market," Villar said.

"Importante talaga na maitaas ang produksyon natin ng bigas. Iyan ang ipinapangako ko sa ating mga kababayan--mura at sapat na suplay ng pagkain. At kapag nag-mechanize at gumamit ng new technology, bababa rin ang production costs," Villar said.

The Nacionalista Party senator also said that this program will help remove the factors identified as barriers to our farmer's competitiveness and profitability such as the lack of mechanization and technical expertise, lack of financial literacy and the lack of access to cheap credit.

Present during the launch were TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapena and DAR Secretary John Castriciones.

The participants are agrarian reform beneficiaries in different provinces and were grouped into 7 clusters--Cluster 1: Ifugao, Zambales, Cavite, and Palawan; Cluster 2: Albay, Camarines Sur, Masbate, and Sorsogon; Cluster 3: Aklan, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Iloilo, and Antique; Cluster 4: Bohol and Negros Oriental; Cluster 5: Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Biliran; Cluster 6: Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and Misamis Occidental; and Cluster 7: Davao del Sur, Sarangani, Surigao del Sur, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao.

These clusters will discuss with officials of DA, TESDA and DAR the support needed by farm organizations to improve rice production, as well as their commitment for the success of the program.

Under the new law, the P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (Rice Fund) composed of duties collected from imported rice will be created and will be spent for programs that will help farmers improve productivity, profitability and competitiveness.

The Rice Fund will be allocated as follows:

  • 50% will go to PhilMech to provide farmers with rice farm machineries and equipment;

  • 30% will be released to PhilRice to be used for the development, propagation and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and the organization of rice farmers into seed growers associations engaged in seed production and trade;

  • 10% will be made available in the form of credit facility with minimal interest rates and with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives to be managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines; and

  • 10% will be set aside to fund extension services by PhilMech, ATI, and TESDA for teaching skills on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and knowledge/ technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.

Also under the law, direct financial assistance will be provided to rice farmers as compensation for the projected reduction or loss of farm income arising from the tariffication.

Further, the rice tariffication law earmarks a portion of the excess rice tariff revenues for the titling of agricultural lands, expanded crop insurance program on rice and the crop diversification program.

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