Over 6,500 farmers and agricultural extension workers (AEWs) were briefed on the services under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) through a series of information caravans nationwide.
This was led by the Agricultural Training Institute’s (ATI) network of training centers, in close coordination with the regional field offices of the Department of Agriculture and the concerned local government units.
Some 3,500 farmers, 2,900 AEWs, and around 2,600 rice industry stakeholders in different regions learned the key provisions of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, as well as services for farmers as part of the implementation of RCEF.
RCEF implementing agencies presented their respective roles in line with the four components of the program. These are the rice seed development, propagation, and promotion; rice farm machinery and equipment; expanded rice credit assistance; and rice extension services.
These agencies include the Philippine Rice Research Institute, Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, Land Bank of the Philippines, ATI, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
In one of the information caravans in Region XII, ATI-Information Services Division chief Antonieta Arceo encouraged the rice farmers to enroll in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) which will serve as basis on the provision of RCEF services. She also assured them that ATI will continue to perform its role in the implementation of RCEF, which includes information dissemination efforts for farmers and industry stakeholders.
The farmers, AEWs, and other stakeholders present at these caravans also received free information, education, and communication materials to increase understanding about RCEF. The caravans also served as an opportunity for the rice farmers to raise their concerns on the implementation of the related programs.
Around 50 information caravans were conducted in selected provinces, based on the identified priority provinces for the program.
Meanwhile, training programs on rice production technologies were also conducted. Around 30 training activities were held for rice specialists, trainers, and farmers in selected regions.
RCEF was created following the enactment of the Rice Tariffication Law this year. It is intended to increase the competitiveness and income of rice farmers in the face of rice trade liberalization through an annual appropriation of Php10 billion in the next six years.