Enough rice supply for Northern Mindanao assured

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Monday, April 21, 2014


NORTHERN Mindanao need not worry about the long dry spell to affect agricultural production as it has sufficient supply of rice, said the National Food Authority (NFA) in the region.

Celeste Gaabucayan, NFA-10 information officer, said region 10 has in store some 340,000 bags of the country’s total 800 metric tons (MT) of imported rice, mainly from Vietnam.

During the same time last year, the region imported about 520,000 bags, which formed part of the 1 million metric tons of the country’s total rice import.

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Gaabucayan said the imported rice, stored in 19 NFA warehouses all over the region, can last up to August this year.

The warehouses, she added, have storage capacity of up to 2 metric tons of rice.

As a rice depository region, she said the NFA has allocated 40,000 bags for Marawi City, an area which does not produce rice.

Decrease in importation

In Northern Mindanao, Camiguin is considered as non-producer of rice, as well.

Gaabucayan said the reason for the decrease in importation is the initiative of the government to purchase rice from local farmers as part of its rice self-sufficiency program.

“The government is promoting rice self-sufficiency. We’re getting there,” she said, adding that in the future, Filipinos will be eating more of the local rice than the imported ones.

Roseminda Simon, NFA-10 regional operations officer, assured the agency can compete with commercial rice dealers by selling low-priced rice in the market through its authorized retailers.

Simon said one of NFA’s roles is to inject rice in the market when prices are high.

At present, the ceiling price of rice sold through NFA-authorized retailers is P32 per kilo, which they bought from the NFA at P30 per kilo.

It is NFA’s aim to stabilize the market by flooding it with low-priced rice variety, she said.

But, the cheap rice that NFA is selling is at par with the commercial, more expensive rice, Simon said.

Although cheaper, Simon said, “The NFA rice can compete with the commercial rice.”

Although the P40-plus per kilo price of commercial rice might be seen by many as too pricey, she said that price range is still reasonable since dealers have to break even.

She said dealers have to spend for the milling, handling and other expenses incurred in selling rice.

A regional economic situationer presented by the National Economic and Development Authority in region 10 (Neda-10) recently revealed that Northern Mindanao posted 72.8 percent rice sufficiency level last year.

“The average annual rice sufficiency for 2013 was 2.7 percentage points higher than the sufficiency level in the entire year of 2012,” the report said.

“Rice [in the region] is available,” Engr. Cecilio Clarete, Neda-10 chief economic development specialist, said when asked if Northern Mindanao has ample supply of the food staple.

Not a cause for alarm

But, Clarete said, the rice price increase being experienced should not be cause for alarm since a spike in prices is normal in a growing economy like region 10.

Neda-10 said, “the region’s rice inventory as of December 1, 2013 reached 1,773 million bags, which was 26.8 percent higher than that of the same period of 2012. This was estimated to sustain the region for 63 days with its daily rice consumption requirement of around 28,357 bags.”

The NFA-10 held 30 percent of the total stocks while commercial and household stocks contributed 26 and 44 percent, respectively, the Neda report furthered.

Meanwhile, palay production in the fourth quarter of 2013 grew minimally by 1.1 percent to 209.736 metric tons from its level in the same period of the previous year, the Neda-10 report said.

For the whole year in 2013, palay production of the region increased by almost 6 percent. Area harvested increased by 2.34 percent while yield went up from 4.12 metric tons per hectare to 4.26 metric tons per hectare, it added.

However, the whole year corn production of 1,185,036 metric tons was 3.56 lower than that of 2012. Yellow corn, which constituted 70 percent of the total annual corn production, decreased by 4.05 percent.

In Misamis Oriental, for instance, corn production took a slight dip due to shifting of yellow corn areas in Claveria to pineapple production.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 21, 2014.

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