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With RTL’s long-term benefits, DA silences critics

The Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), according to the Department of Agriculture (DA), has resulted in higher local production and yield, a more cheap and steady supply of rice, and additional benefits for farmers.

In response to critics, DA spokesman Noel Reyes said in a Viber message on Monday that beginning this month, more than 1.6 million Filipino rice farmers with a land area of two hectares or less will receive a share of the PHP7.6 billion excess tariff collected from rice imports over the previous two years, as indicated in the RTL.

The monetary assistance will be distributed through the Intervention Monitoring Card, which will double as a farmer’s identification and a cash card.

“Marami man pong kumondena, dahil po sa taripa mula sa imported rice, kumikita ng pera ang gobyerno na ngayon nga ay ipapamahagi (Despite criticism, it must be known that the government gained money for distribution to farmers because of the tariff on imported rice),” Reyes added.

Secretary William Dar recently highlighted RTL’s accomplishments under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), including a 35 percent reduction in rice farmers’ seeding rate requirements.

“Farmers have decreased their seed requirements from 96 kilograms (kg) per hectare (ha) to only 64 kilograms (kg) per ha,” Dar said in a statement.

For 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, there was also a 0.56 metric tons per hectare rise in dry season cultivation.

At P19/kg of dry palay, RCEF farmers generated additional gross revenue of at least P10,000/ha with an average yield increment of 560 kg/ha.

RCEF also permitted the distribution of 1.822 million bags (20kg/bag) of inbred seeds, according to Dar.

On February 14, 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the RTL (Republic Act No. 11203), which replaces quantitative limits on rice imports with tariffs.

“The purpose of the government’s drive to reform the rice industry was to promote food security for all and provide better support to rice farmers,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua earlier stated.

“We want to make sure that all Filipinos can buy rice, particularly the poor, who spend up to 30% of their food budget on rice, and that rice farmers have better tools to increase output through improved seeds and equipment,” he added.

The law is expected to accelerate agricultural growth and facilitate the structural transformation of the economy, according to studies by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), International Rice Research Institute, and International Food Policy Research Institute, with the gross domestic product, increasing by at least 0.13 percent compared to the baseline in 2025.

“More crucially, the RTL is expected to lower the share of malnourished children and the population at risk of hunger in the country by 2.8 percent and 15.4 percent, respectively, by 2025.” “This equates to around 2.1 million fewer people at risk of hunger and malnutrition,” according to the NEDA.

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