By: Gail T. Momblan
SENATOR Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, is eyeing a Rice School in Oton, Iloilo.
Villar said that the Rice School would be the training ground for mechanization and rice production.
The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMEC) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) will teach local government officials and cooperatives who will relay the knowledge to the farmers in the community.
The senator eyes to establish the rice school this year.
“Inaayos na namin,” she said.
Villar is also the sponsor and the principal author of the Senate Bill No. 1998 or the Rice Tariffication Bill which seeks to amend the Republic Act (RA) No. 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996 and replaces the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice imports.
“Dahil nag expire na ang quantitative restriction ng importation. So we have to tariffy kasi we are instructed to liberalize the importation of rice so as to protect the local farmers,” Villar said.
A Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund would be created if the bill will pass into law.
Villar said that a P10-billion fund would annually be provided to support the farmers, specifically on the development of inbred rice seeds, rice farm equipment and skills enhancement.
“Magm-mechanise na tayo so 5 billion a year will be given sa mga rice producing towns to mechanise then 3 billion to improve their seeds,” Villar said.
“And then 1 billion to be given to Land Bank and DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) for credit para makahiram sila (farmers)ng mura and then 1 billion for training kasi syempre pag mag-memechanise ka iti-train mo ang mga tao, not only to use the machine but also to maintain the machine,” she added.
The fund will be allocated and disbursed to rice-producing areas in the form of:
- 50% for grants to eligible farmers’ associations, registered rice cooperatives, and local government units, in the form of rice farm equipment such as tillers, tractors, seeders, millers, and dryers, among others
- 30% for the development, propagation, and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers
- 10% for loans with minimal interest for rice farmers and cooperatives
- 10% for extension services, such as teaching skills on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and knowledge/technology transfer through farm schools nationwide