Rice Growers in Kalinga Up In Arms Over P12M Unpaid Seeds

Rice seed growers cooperatives in Tabuk, Kalinga are up in arms over unpaid rice seeds reaching P12 million ($249,014).

Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat

TABUK CITY, Kalinga (480 kms north of Manila) – Rice seed growers cooperatives here are up in arms over unpaid rice seeds reaching P12 million ($249,014 at the current exchange rate of $1=P48.19).

Claiming the agriculture department had not paid them since December and January this year, the rice seed cooperatives are beginning to doubt the seriousness of the government’s seed subsidy program.

Members of the Kalinga Hybrid Rice Seed Growers’ Multi-purpose Cooperative (KHRSGMPC), the Tabuk Hybrid Rice Seed Growers’ Multi-purpose Cooperative (THRSGMPC) and the Sumyaan Organic Farmers’ Multi-purpose Cooperative (SOFMPC) criticized the Cordillera offices of the Department of Agriculture for the delay in the payment of deliveries.

Jesse Rey Cuaresma, manager of the KHRSGMPC, said, “We are assuming that since there is a program, there is a fund.   In reality, we are having a hard time collecting. The DA-CARFU Accounting Division is now saying that there is no cash.” Cuaresma still has to collect the payment for 5,013 bags amounting to P6 million ($124,507).

As of March 6, the DA-CARFU has only paid the KHRSGMPC through the first purchase order P1.3 million ($26,976) for 966 bags of rice certified seeds. It has also made initial payments to the other two cooperatives.

The cooperatives are wondering how come the payments are being made in staggered basis when the procurement was done through the bidding process.

“Since it was done through bidding, there should only be one purchase order,” Cuaresma said adding that the follow up of the purchase order costs money; they had to go Baguio City where the DA-CARFU is located.

A member of the SOFMPC who asked not to be named is also angry because the DA-CARFU Accounting Division has claimed it cannot as yet pay the deliveries because the documents for the distribution of the certified seeds to farmer beneficiaries by their local government units are not in order. The cooperative still has to collect P2.4 million ($49,802).

“Why should we suffer for the mistakes or shortcomings of others? We have delivered our seeds and the delivery is duly acknowledged by the endorsers. We have already submitted the delivery receipt, the seed analysis and the bill of collection for the whole delivery and that should be enough for them to pay the whole amount,” the farmer-cooperative member said.

He added that if the DA-CARFU does not improve its system, the cooperative may choose to do business with Regions 1 and 2 in the coming seasons.

Production slide

Farmers-cooperative members claimed that the delay in the payment of the seed deliveries is the major reason for the decline in the production of F1 or hybrid rice. The F1 or hybrid rice seed in the city has steadily gone down from 800 hectares in 2004 to a mere 130 hectares this cropping season.

THRSGMPC President Eusebio Orprecio agrees that it is much better to do business with the DA in Regions 1 and 2 than with the DA-CARFU saying that it only takes a month to collect from the two regional offices.

“We really cannot understand what’s the matter with DA-CARFU since the DA is using only one set of procurement guidelines,” Orprecio said.

Orprecio is also wondering how come at this point when the harvest is just around the corner, the DA-CARFU still has not conducted seed matching sessions.

Orprecio informed that DA Region 1 has already called him for the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA). (Posted by Bulatlat)

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