NEGROS Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. on Tuesday, February 6, allayed concerns on reports of decreasing supply of rice in the province.
He said the province has sufficient rice supply since production, particularly the yield per hectare, has also been increasing.
“The previous damage and losses brought by pests and calamities, which cannot be avoided, won’t hurt much our local production,” Marañon said, adding that “there is nothing to worry about.”
Earlier this month, the National Food Authority (NFA) reported that tight supply is driving up prices of commercial rice in Negros Occidental.
Marianito Bejemino, provincial manager of NFA-Negros Occidental, said that based on the agency’s latest monitoring, there was a prevailing increase of P2 to P4 per kilogram in the prices of commercial rice sold in local markets.
He attributed the tight supply to low production since some of the rice farms in Panay Island were damaged by typhoons and flooding during the later part of last year.
Like in Metro Manila and other provinces, the NFA-Negros Occidental also noted a “thin” supply of NFA rice among market retailers.
It is because the agency is currently calibrating the supply of the P27 per kilogram government rice since there is no scheduled importation yet.
Bejemino pointed out that the administration’s strategy now is importing the right volume at the right time.
“We still have ongoing harvests while waiting for the importation in April, and the available supply of NFA rice among retailers in the market is just enough to meet the requirement,” he added.
NFA-Negros Occidental records showed the province’s current inventory of NFA rice is about 10,000 bags. Additional stocks of 25,000 bags from Cebu are still up for delivery this week.
Marañon said the Provincial Government continues to work on making Negros Occidental a net exporter of rice.
In fact, the province is already exporting “first class rice” when the National Government itself is still importing rice, he said.
“We have one farmer here who supplies Japanese rice in Manila, his clients are Japanese restaurants there,” Marañon said, adding that this is on top of organic rice being exported also by some local farmers.
The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist is still consolidating the data to determine the province’s total rice production as well as its sufficiency level last year.
In 2016, rice self-sufficiency level of Negros Occidental was pegged at 97 percent, according to the defunct Department of Agriculture-Negros Island Region.
The governor said that among the efforts to boost rice production and sufficiency level include provision of more irrigation and other support services.
More farmers are now converting to rice from sugar, Marañon said, adding that there are local farmers that produce seven metric tons per hectare, higher than the national average yield of 4.2 metric tons.
“Time will come that we will no longer import, we are getting there,” he added.