Duterte signs rice tariffication law

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DAVAO CITY (February 18) —  President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday signed the rice tariffication bill into law.

The signing will mean changing from the current quota system in importing rice to a tariff system, where rice can be imported more freely.

Under the law, , the 10-billion Rice Fund will be allocated as follows:

· 30% will be released to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to be used for the development, propagation and promotion of inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and the organization of rice farmers into seed growers associations engaged in seed production and trade;

· 10% will be made available in the form of credit facility with minimal interest rates and with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives to be managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines; and

· 10% will be set aside to fund extension services by PhilMech, Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for teaching skills on rice crop production, modern rice farming techniques, seed production, farm mechanization, and knowledge/ technology transfer through farm schools nationwide.

Various government agencies cited the gains of the law’s signing, such as giving farmers additional resources, reducing the price of rice, and lowering inflation significantly.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said the enactment and full implementation of the law can bring down the prices of rice, benefitting Filipino families.

Senator Cynthia Villar earlier stressed that the rice tariffication measure would enhance the competitiveness of Filipino farmers rather than kill the local rice industry, as claimed by some progressive lawmakers and peasant groups. At least 10 business organizations have expressed their support for rice tariffication.

Now that rice tariffication has become a law, farmers who badly need funds can avail it, they can now access to financing facilities and the means to enhance their skills and productivity through modern farming methods.-ezc/Newsline.ph

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