AT least 38 rice-producing provinces and a city will have a competitive advantage over Thailand and Vietnam in rice production if the 35 percent tariff is levied on rice imports and the quantitative restrictions (QR) lifted.
Results of the preliminary analysis conducted by the National Economic and Development Authority’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Staff (ANRES) show that the rice production in at least 39 areas will remain competitive with a P4 per kilogram cost advantage over rice imports tariffed at 35 percent.
“Rice per kilogram in these areas will be P4 cheaper compared with Thai and Vietnamese rice. And these provinces can produce about 73 percent of the total food requirement of the country,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.
The areas are Nueva Ecija, Kalinga, Pampanga, Bataan, Biliran, Bulacan, Zamboanga del Sur, Isabela, Bukidnon, Nueva Vizcaya, Laguna, Pangasinan, Lanao del Norte, Aurora, Compostela Valley, Albay, Leyte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Negros Occidental, South Cotabato, Camarines Sur, Zamboanga City, Sultan Kudarat, Sorsogon, Cavite, Palawan, Antique, Iloilo, Aklan, Surigao del Sur, Capiz, Masbate, Catanduanes, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Basilan, Western Samar, Guimaras, and Maguindanao.
Among these 39 areas, however, 14 have an average yield of 3.5 metric tons per hectare (mt/ha), which is below the national average of four mt/ha. These provinces are Palawan, Antique, Iloilo, Aklan, Surigao del Sur, Capiz, Masbate, Catanduanes, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Basilan, Samar, Guimaras, and Maguindanao.
Producing rice at lower costs, these provinces can still further increase their yield levels by using certified inbred and hybrid seeds, proper management of input application and sufficient irrigation.
The ANRES study also shows that seven provinces not included in the 39 competitive ones have an average yield higher than the national level. These high-yielding provinces, however, are producing at higher costs.
To be competitive, rice-producing provinces should reduce the cost of rice production by mechanizing labor-intensive farm activities, using new and appropriate technologies and applying farm management practices.
Apart from these, NEDA suggested measures to boost competitiveness, including constructing more irrigation systems, addressing gaps in infrastructure connectivity, improving farmers’ access to affordable credit insurance, and adopting measures to enhance agriculture’s resilience to climate change, among others. (PR)
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on January 10, 2018.
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