Farm councils seeks rice subsidy in lieu of competitiveness fund

Farm councils seek rice subsidy in lieu of competitiveness fund

MANILA  —As rice prices remain high, the private sector has proposed the reallocation of funds intended to boost farmers’ competitiveness to subsidize rice instead.

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said one of the recommendations submitted by agricultural and fisheries councils nationwide is the conversion of Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) into a rice price subsidy.

RCEF, funded by rice tariff collections exceeding P10 billion, is meant to provide financial assistance to farmers, including the titling of agricultural lands, expansion of crop insurance coverage and crop diversification.


Half of the budget or P5 billion is earmarked for the distribution of farm machinery to rice farmers. Some P3 billion is budgeted to give away high-yielding seeds and P1 billion to boost farmers’ capacity and provide credit support.


READ: Bill seeks to extend life of rice tariff funds

RCEF was mandated under the Rice Tariffication Law of 2019, which liberalizes the importation, exportation and trading of rice as well as lifts the quantitative import restriction on this household staple.

In a meeting with Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr., the private sector stakeholders also proposed the construction of cold storage facilities for vegetables, including onions. They also cited the need for laboratories to address biosecurity concerns and farm-to-market roads or other modes for faster shipment of agricultural products.

Regional councils likewise recommended the development of more irrigation facilities, local nurseries and seed banks to ensure high-quality planting materials and seeds, inland fisheries and hatcheries in upland areas.

READ: DA seeks help of local gov’ts to monitor cold storage facilities

They are asking the DA to widen and intensify soil testing to optimize land use and productivity, distribute hybrid seed and fertilizer to farmer-beneficiaries in a timely manner and revive direct farmer linkage to market via Kadiwa centers.


Industry stakeholders are pushing for the creation of a separate department for fisheries and aquaculture for the implementation of the higher biofuel blend to help the coconut industry.

Laurel said more consultations would be held as he vowed to secure funds to substantially address all the issues and recommendations.

“If we can work together well, then I think we can move forward faster,” he said.

The DA said additional infrastructure, including warehouses, seaports, food terminals and roads, would be built to help lower food prices.

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It is finalizing a 10-point agenda to address agricultural sector challenges. INQ

TAGS: Business, fund, rice, rice tariffs, subsidy

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