DA questioned about overlapping rice programs


SENATOR Cynthia A. Villar said the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) rice programs could be suffering from redundancy due to the failure to adequately define the roles played by the National Rice Program and the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

The department was asked in a hearing Monday to provide the list of National Rice Program beneficiaries to check whether recipients of inbred and hybrid rice seed are receiving duplicated benefits.

“‘Yung National Rice Program at RCEF nag o-overlap… dapat maliwanag kung ano ‘yung inimplement nila at ano ‘yung inimplement n’yo. The two programs overlap… it needs to be clear which program is implementing what measures),” Ms. Villar said at the hearing.

“Sabi ko piliin ‘yung mga bayan na gusto ng hybrid seed at ‘wag na bigyan ng inbred,” Ms. Villar said. (The DA should choose which towns prefer hybrid seeds and those who prefer inbred.)

“Ang mangyayari d’yan anong ginawa ng National Rice Program at anong ginawa ng RCEF? Bakit tayo nag o-overlap? P9 billion sa National Rice Program, P10-billion budget ng RCEF, di natin ma-distinguish…?” (What will happen there is that we’ll have to determine which measures were carried out by the National Rice Program and which were by RCEF? Why is there an overlap? We have a P9-billion budget for the National Rice Program and P10 billion for RCEF and yet we can’t make distinctions?)

Mr. Villar said the National Rice Program should only benefit towns that were not covered by the RCEF to reduce cost, noting that inbred rice seed costs P38 per kilogram while hybrid seed costs around P260 per kg.

She also noted that the DA is also conducting training already provided in the RCEF.

“Bakit ka nagti-training? P1 billion na nasa training… Duplication na naman ‘yan (Why are you training? We already have P1 billion for training, that’s another case of duplication),” she said.

The DA said it will submit to the committee a detailed report on the implementation of the rice programs to address possible overlaps.

At the same hearing, Ms. Villar said she will be filing a resolution that will allocate tariff collections in excess of the P10 billion required by law to fund RCEF as cash assistance to farmers.

“I am filing a resolution that anything beyond the P10 billion will be given as cash assistance to the farmers in this time of pandemic, anything beyond the P10-billion collection,” she said.

Senator Francis N. Pangilinan supported the proposal and asked to co-author the resolution.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the department is also seeking funding sources for cash assistance.

“Tinitingnan namin ang taripa at kung pwede magbigay ng cash assistance we will make it possible this time (We are looking at the tariffs and if we can give cash assistance, we will make it possible this time),” he said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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