Rice Resiliency Project (RRP) is the first initiative of the national government with a huge budget to ramp up food production, Department of Agriculture (DA) regional director Angel Enriquez said on Wednesday.
“We expect that farms not planted in the past will be properly cultivated this cropping. Those planted areas with lack of government support before will receive proper intervention and will be included in our regular monitoring,” Enriquez told the Philippine News Agency.
Nationwide, the central government has set aside PHP8.5 billion for RRP, which 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.
Under the RRP, the DA aims to produce an increment of more than 1.03 million metric tons (MMT) of rice, on top of this year’s yield projection of 12.76 MMT nationwide.
In the region, about PHP300 million have been spent on the continuing distribution of a high-yielding variety of rice seeds to farmers as of the end of May this year.
Launched on May 26, the project will be providing seeds and fertilizers to farmers. The project covers 111,232 hectares of farms.
Andrew Orais, DA regional field operations chief, said they are eyeing an additional 542,000 metric tons yield due to RRP implementation, raising the region’s chance to attain the 113-percent sufficiency level in staple food productivity, up than the current 93 percent.
“We are investing a lot to make sure stable rice supply. The goal is to achieve an increase of harvest to 4 to 6.5 metric tons per hectare from the existing three to five metric tons yield per hectare,” Orais said.
The DA regional field office, in coordination with the provincial agriculturist and the city or municipal agriculturist, leads the distribution of seeds and fertilizers and adheres to the quarantine and physical distancing protocols.
Enriquez said all personnel of the DA field office will be involved to ensure the success of this project in partnership with local government units.
The agriculture department is eyeing to continue the intervention in the next planting season from October 2020 to May 2021.
Eastern Visayas is primarily an agricultural region with 157,632 hectares or 22 percent of the total farm area devoted to rice farming.