The Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office No. 8 (DA-RFO 8), a report from the DA-RFO 8 has distributed the needed rice seeds and fertilizers to the farmers in Eastern Visayas for this cropping season, a report from the DA-RFO 8, based in this city said.

Francisco Rosaroso DA-RFO 8 regional information officer told Manila Bulletin that DA-RFO 8 has already earmarked and distributed 34,269 bags of rice seeds and 52,950 bags of fertilizers positioned in the six provinces of Region 8 as of the second week of this month. Leyte got the lion share of these initial deliveries with more than 23,000 bags of rice seeds and 36,000 bags of fertilizers, he added.

Rosaroso said that seeds and fertilizers will be used or planted in the peak planting for the dry season which falls within the first and second week of December.

Rosaroso claimed that DSA-RFO 8 is heeding the call of Agriculture Secretary William Dar to fast track full implementation of the Rice Resiliency Project (RRP) Part 2 under the Plant, Plant, Plant Program of the Department of Agriculture. She added that her office is targeting to cover 116,500 hectares of rice lands in the current cropping season — September until March 2021 – 96,500 hectares and 20,000 hectares for inbred and hybrid rice, respectively.

DA-RFO 8 Regional Director Angel Enriquez informed Manila Bulletin that her office has earmarked over P538 million for RRP-2 for the purchase of production inputs such as hybrid and inbred palay seeds and fertilizers.

She recalled that the central government has set aside PHP8.5 billion for RRP1, while RRP 2 gets its fund allocation from the PHP24 billion stimulus fund earmarked for the recovery of the farming sector under the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act ” approved by Congress.

RRP is one of the components under the “Plant, Plant, Plant” Program against Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) to address potential scarcity due to the pandemic, she said.

Enriquez clarified that RRP will only distribute seeds that are National Seed Industry Council (NSIC)-registered. “Our main goal is to increase the volume of the region’s rice output. This is something that we critically need to combat the threat of hunger amid the ‘new normal’ in global food production,” she said.

The director said that under the RRP2, DA-8 will distribute to six provinces in the region 55,500 bags of rice seeds under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, 55,730 bags of seeds from RRP2 fund and 2,270 bags of seeds from the regular hybrid rice program.

She added that it will also provide a total of 253,000 bags of fertilizers to farmer-beneficiaries. A corresponding budget of P282.9 million has been allocated for the fertilizer subsidy alone.

Enriquez said that unlike the RRP-1, beneficiaries of RRP-2 will receive their fertilizers without putting up a counterpart, instead a voucher system will be in place. Eligible farmers will receive P2,000 worth of voucher for every hectare of rice land if they are planted with inbred seeds or P3,000 if planted with hybrid, she added.

All they need to do is use the voucher subsidy in buying the fertilizers from accredited fertilizer dealers, distributors, cooperatives or farmers associations, she said.