Rice self-sufficient Negros eyed before deadline

LOCAL government units in Negros Island Region (NIR), through their respective city and municipal agriculture office, are ordered to achieve 100 percent rice self-sufficiency in 18 months only, which is shorter than the two-year period mandated by the new administration.

Upon his assumption as the new agriculture secretary, former North Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Piñol instructed all regional directors of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to increase rice production output and eventually achieve self-sufficiency by 2018.

Newly-designated DA-NIR Officer-In-Charge Executive Director Joyce Wendam ordered all city and municipal agriculturists in the province to meet the mandated rice self-sufficiency target within a year and a half.

During the regular meeting of the Association of City and Municipal Agriculturists in Negros Occidental Wednesday, Wendam already instructed them to craft and review their respective agriculture development strategies, particularly on rice.

Wendam will also meet with city and municipal agriculturists of Negros Oriental next week to issue the same order.

“We currently have 97 percent rice self-sufficiency rate amid effects of various calamities like the recent El Niño thus, achieving the remaining three percent is feasible provided strategies will be improved,” Wendam said.

At the start of its transitional operation in October last year, DA-NIR along with the provincial governments of both Negros provinces drafted the six-year agriculture development plan.

Wendam said a revision of this roadmap is necessary as it should be aligned with the policy direction of the new administration.

The agency will have to consolidate the strategies of all LGUs in the region and will turn it into a new roadmap for NIR, Wendam added.

“One of the strategies that we are recommending is to maximize the utilization of production areas to increase the rice output,” the DA official said, adding that agriculturists of Negros Occidental have assured them strong commitments to achieve rice self-sufficiency target before the set deadline.

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