DA-Davao assures no rice shortage

Social media posts about rice panic buying due to alleged rice shortage create hysteria among consumers
A laborer carries a sack of rice to his employer’s store, as more sacks of rice are waiting to be transferred and arranged in a stall at a public market in Davao City.
A laborer carries a sack of rice to his employer’s store, as more sacks of rice are waiting to be transferred and arranged in a stall at a public market in Davao City.Macky Lim/SunStar File Photo

THE Department of Agriculture-Davao Region (DA-Davao) assured that there is no shortage of rice supply in the region, contrary to the recent posts of several consumers that went viral across social media, particularly Facebook.

Netizens took to Facebook to air their concerns about the issue of rice shortage in Davao as major markets, particularly Bankerohan Public Market, have no sufficient rice supply.

“This has reference to a misleading post circulating on Facebook regarding the shortage of rice supply in some market outlets in Davao City. The said post is no longer available as it was removed by the owner,” DA-Davao announced on Tuesday, July 8, 2024.

On the same day, in an exclusive phone interview with the Regional Public Information Officer of DA-Davao, Celso Vergara, he confirmed that their agency had already convened with the Operations and Marketing Team to investigate the situation which created hysteria and panic buying among consumers.

“Based on the conducted monitoring on the ground and the submitted ddata from our partner agencies, THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF RICE SUPPLY IN DAVAO CITY and the information in the said Facebook post is inaccurate,” DA-Davao’s announcement added.

Vergara also disclosed that among the factors the agency is considering before declaring the entire region is experiencing instability in the supply of rice include buffer stocking from the National Food Authority (NFA), local production, price monitoring, and the current status of rice importation.

“Walay significant increase or nag-decline ba ang imports sa rice. Daghan issue na tan-awon. Definitely naa tay bugas ug bugas usab nga niabot. Gina-imbestigahan na nato ni pero atong timbangon ang mga perspectives before ta mag-release og announcement,” the official said.

(There is no significant increase or decline in rice imports. There are many factors to look at. We definitely have ample rice [supply] and some are even arriving. We are investigating this but we will weigh the perspectives before we release an announcement.)

He added that rice prices are expected to go up a bit once the supply becomes insufficient to cater to the domestic demand.

Meanwhile, data from the National Plant Quarantine Services (NPQS) show that 3,465 metric tons (MT) or 69,300 bags at 50 kilos per bag of rice had just arrived at the Port of Davao

The Bantay Presyo Team also reported that there is no significant price movement of rice in the past monitoring activities.

Council to probe into alleged rice shortage

Meanwhile, in an interview following the Aprubado sa Konseho Media Forum on the same day at the Sangguniang Panlungsod Councilor Lounge, Councilor Diosdado Mahipus Jr. shared that he also received numerous reports the previous night about the alleged rice shortage. He then took to social media to further confirm these reports from Dabawenyos.

"Naa daw nag-hoarding sa bugas (Is there an alleged hoarding of rice)?" Mahipus asked in a post on his Facebook account.

Mahipus said that he will verify if a rice shortage is indeed happening in the city and will request an investigation from the relevant offices. 

“Atoang i-check karon unsa ka tinuod nga naay shortage of supply sa rice, I’m sure we will ask the help of NBI to see if naa gyud mga nag-hoarding. Kasi dili na pwede na hilabtan ang atoang supply sa bugas sa siyudad kay daghan kaayong maglisod. That’s under investigation I suppose, from other offices. Personally, we will check on it na lang pod as a public interest subject matter,” Mahipus added. 

(We'll check today to confirm if there really is a shortage of rice supply. I'm sure we will ask the help of NBI to see if there are indeed people hoarding. Because that's not allowed and will cause many problems. That's under investigation, I suppose, by other offices. Personally, we'll also look into it as this is a matter of public interest.)

In his privilege speech during the 20th City Council regular session, Mahipus stated that while these reports could cause panic buying if untrue, they are even more dangerous if true because rice is a staple food, and many families may not have sufficient rice for the coming days as everybody was caught by surprise. 

“Your honor, a rice shortage would cause its prices to go up and sa kamahal sa kuryente, kamahal sa tubig, unsaon na lang ang atoang katauhan nga naglisud (with the high cost of power and water, how will our people who are suffering cope?),” Mahipus added.

Mahipus emphasized that these reports are still unverified and expressed doubts about their accuracy. He suggested that the reports might be the result of individuals hoarding or sabotaging the rice supply in the city. 

“There might be no shortage, but there may be people hoarding our supply, leading to the shortage of rice 'for sale' to the public,” Mahipus stated.

Requesting probe from other agencies

Moreover, Mahipus has requested the chairman of the house to permit the passage of a resolution seeking immediate investigation and verification of rice shortage reports by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Davao and the National Food Authority (NFA)-Davao in the city.

Amid concerns expressed by several Dabawenyos on social media about the availability of rice from their regular suppliers, fears of potential hoarding have been circulating.

Major suppliers refute claims of rice shortage

However, two major rice suppliers in Uyanguren, Davao City, have clarified that there is no rice shortage or supply issue in the city. 

According to an exclusive interview by iFM, which was posted on its FB page, Davao Tristar Commercial and Pengco Enterprises on Monteverde Street revealed that it is only a temporary stock shortage due to a delay in the arrival of rice shipments. They assured the public that their stocks had arrived on July 9, 2024, and that there is now an adequate supply of rice.

The office of the Committee on Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Food Chairperson, City Councilor Marissa Abella, has yet to provide a response but has vowed to look into the matter. DEF with Charles Lj Sido, Silliman University Intern

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