RCEP Stakeholders in CAR Convene, Issues and Apprehensions Discussed

In response to issues arising from the implementation of RA 11203 or the Rice Tarrification Law, rice industry stakeholders from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) gathered on September 25-26, 2019 at Tabuk City, Kalinga to discuss measures to such concerns. The meeting was organized by the Agricultural Training Institute-CAR (ATI-CAR) in coordination with its partner government agencies and farmer groups.

During the session, ATI-CAR Center Director Arlene Flores urged stakeholders under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP) to be self-reflective and to work together. She challenged the participants to strengthen partnerships, exercise patience and cooperation, and to start to be inward looking instead of outward looking. “The law is already there, what can we do about it? What can we do make it work?” she added.

Although varying needs and suggestions were raised by extension workers and farmer representatives to lessen production costs or farm inputs, Edwin Joseph Franco of DA-RFO CAR, pointed out that different regions have different peculiar situations. He stated that everyone have different interpretations and appreciation of what the present situation is. Moreover, Ms, Flores stressed that the only way to convince farmers to support the program is for the stakeholders to know the program by heart so that they can deliver and share it effectively. “There is no immediate solution to the problems facing our farmers, but through the RCEP interventions, and medium or long term plans, we hope that our farmers will be able to cope up,” Jose Casibang of the Office of the Provincial Agricultural Services of Kalinga added.

In line with the activity, the different component implementers delineated their roles under the RCEP. It was emphasized during the activity that the program is an intervention to enhance capability of rice farmers using yield-enhancing and cost-reducing rice production technologies through provision of extension services. The mechanization and seed components were then further explained by Rhey Mark Credo of PhilRice and Nelson Santiago of PhilMech respectively. Meanwhile, the credit and extension components were discussed by Albert Galut of LBP, Joey Belarmino of ATI CO, and John Adawey of TESDA-Ifugao.

Aside from the consultation, the undertaking also served as an avenue for the ATI-CAR, PhilMec, PhilRice, LBP, DBP, DAR, TESDA-CAR, DA-RFO CAR, BPI-CAR, PLGUs, MLGUs, and farmer cooperative officers of Kalinga and Ifugao to create, harmonize, and complement their extension and communication plans and strategies for the RCEP. As agreed, technical briefings on RCEP are set to be conducted involving 800 farmers from Kalinga and Ifugao which will be divided into four batches this October 2019. (By Desiree Esteban)