Press Release
July 6, 2020

Villar: The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund Does Not Need Additional Budget from Covid 19 Budget

Senator Cynthia Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture explains that The Rice Tarrification Law guarantees that the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund created under the Law has a P10B budget per year for the next 6 years in our national budget. The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) does not need any additional budget allocated from the COVID 19 prevention. The additional budget being asked by the Department of Agriculture is not for RCEF but for their other programs. DA has a separate National Rice Program aside from RCEF. The National Rice Program has a P7B yearly budget which DA is using to buy fertilizer and hybrid seeds.

The Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) or Republic Act 11203 which took effect March 2019. The law was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February 2019. The law created the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund or RCEF which guarantees a P10 billion allocation annually or higher to be taken from tariff collected by the Bureau of Customs.

The law provides and guarantees that for the years 2019 to 2024, a P10 billion fund shall be allocated as follows: P5 billion or 50 percent, for the procurement of rice farm equipment - tillers, tractors, threshers, milling, transplanters, harvesters, irrigation pumps, and drying facilities that will be given to 947 or so rice-producing towns in the country to be implemented by PhilMech;

P3 billion or 30 percent, will be allotted for the development, promotion, distribution and production of inbred seeds by PhilRice to rice farmers and the organization of seed growers for inbred rice seeds production and trade;

P1 billion or 10 percent, will go to cheap credit with two-percent interest per year to be implemented by LandBank and the Development Bank of the Philippines; and

10 percent or P1 billion is for training programs implemented by PhilMech, PhiRice Agricultural Training Institute and Tesda for teaching skills on production of inbred seeds by farmers, modern rice farming techniques, farm mechanization, knowledge and technology transfer in farm schools nationwide.

Under the law, the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund will initiate the programs aimed at helping local rice farmers compete by bringing down the cost of producing rice from the present P12per kg to P7per kg.

This cheaper supply of rice from our own rice farmer helps lower rice prices for Filipino consumers.

The law focuses on rice farmers, cooperatives, and associations. It also allocated tariff revenues in excess of Php10 billion to the Rice Farmer Financial Assistance program to compensate rice farmers who will lose income as a result of the measure. A portion of the excess tariff will be allocated to titling rice lands, expanded crop insurance, and crop diversification program.

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