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Extending RCEF, using it for non-rice sectors, possible

23 April 2024

THE National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) is open to extending the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) and using it for other sectors apart from rice.

According to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, using the RCEF for other sectors may lead to higher productivity in other agriculture sectors and will also bode well for the country.

Balisacan said there are arguments to support and do not support the extension of the RCEF, but all these should be carefully studied.

“Using it for agriculture, but ensuring this time that it’s really used for highly productive uses, especially those that will address low productivity issues in the rice sector. I think that will be a good move,” Balisacan said.

Neda Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon also said proposals to extend the RCEF are welcome, but should be made pending an evaluation of the previous program.

Edillon said evaluating how the RCEF was used can help inform the government’s decision to extend the RCEF and increase its funding.

Reports earlier said Senator Cynthia A. Villar is proposing to extend the RCEF for another six years, doubling the support for farmers to P20 billion.

“We’re actually supportive of the proposal to extend the validity of the RCEF. With respect to the funding, especially the allocation, I think that has to benefit muna from the evaluation of the previous implementation,” Edillon said.

The RCEF is a fund dedicated to improving farmers’ competitiveness through the provision of certified seeds, mechanization, expansion of credit access, and delivery of extension services.

RCEF is a six-year, P10-billion rice production development program created under the RTL law, or Republic Act 11203, which deregulated the rice industry.

The law allocates P5 billion for farm mechanization, P3 billion for inbred seed distribution, P1 billion for credit and P1 billion for extension.

In 2020, two years before the mandatory review of RCEF, economists said the P10-billion RCEF can already be used to finance the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).

Earlier, the International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri) said a measure allowing the extension of the RCEF should include its gradual phaseout.

Research Fellow Emeritus at the IFPRI Director General’s Office, Mark Rosegrant, recently told reporters on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Food Security Forum that it is important to place sunset provisions on farm subsidies.

Once the RCEF is phased out, the funds from rice tariffs could be used for other investments in the agriculture sector. This will ensure that government funds are spent for agriculture that could lead to “higher returns,” he explained.

Source : businessmirror