GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/1 March) – The National Food Authority (NFA) assured residents here and nearby South Cotabato province that it has enough rice stocks to supply the area’s food requirements for the coming months despite the noted slowdown in their local palay procurement operations as a result of the ongoing rat infestation in the area.
Engr. Pangalian Busran, NFA-South Cotabato provincial manager, said Monday the standby rice stocks at its warehouses in various parts of the province currently stands at more than 50,000 bags and enough to supply the area’s needs until July.
“We’re not worried about any rice shortage in the coming months. We have enough rice allocation as of this time,” he said in a radio interview.
Busran said his office may request for additional allocation from the NFA central office to cover for the slack in their local palay procurement activities.
He cited that they have only purchased some 3,000 bags of palay as of last week or less than 50 percent of their target for the current harvest season.
Busran earlier said they were targeting to purchase some 10,000 bags of palay starting February until the end of the harvest season early this month.
“The palay deliveries to our buying stations were quite slow so far mainly because of the rat infestation,” he said.
He said some farmers complained that their total yield have dropped by as high as 50 percent due to the onslaught of the rodent pests.
Officials of the Department of Agriculture in Region 12 earlier raised alarm over the ongoing rat infestation in the province, saying it might affect the area’s rice production.
Hit hardest by the rat infestation were the towns of Surallah, Tantangan and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.
Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato chief agriculturist, said the total damage caused by the rats to palay farms has so far reached P16.9 million. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)