S. Cotabato braces for surplus palay harvest

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/27 Apr) – Agriculture officials in South Cotabato are bracing for another palay bumper harvest in the next three months as they expect the usual lean months in local palay production to ease off this year.

Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato agriculture office chief, said Wednesday their monitoring showed that an estimated 18,000 hectares of palay would be due for harvest from May to July within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

He said they expect that around 5,000 hectares of palay, which doubled from this month’s 2,500 hectares, would be harvested in May, followed by 7,000 and 6,000 hectares in June and July, respectively.

At the current average local production of 80 cavans or 4 metric tons (MT) per hectare, Legaste said the province’s total palay production is expected to reach a total of 72,000 MT by the end of July.

Out of the projected yield for the period, he said some 10,800 to 14,400 MT or 15 to 20 percent would be considered as surplus.

“We’re enjoying a surplus production for palay right now and we expect this trend to continue through the third quarter and towards the end of the year,” Legaste said in a media forum.

The official said the surge in the province’s palay production this year is considered “unique” as the harvests during the last four months, which reached around 21,000 hectares, mainly covered areas that were usually off in the previous years due to the relatively dry condition.

But the province so far received an unusually high amount of rainfall during the last four months due to changes in the area’s weather pattern.

Citing earlier weather advisories issued by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Legaste said the rains may even continue throughout the summer season.

“This has not happened in the last 10 years and I think it has a lot to do with climate change. So I personally think that climate change is not that bad, at least for our palay production,” he said.

Owing to the changes in the area’s weather pattern and palay production trend, Legaste said the expected lean period in the months of June to August would not be felt much this time.

He said such situation may further lead to the stabilization of palay buying prices and eventually the prices of commercial rice in the local markets.

Local commercial rice prices presently range from P28 to P34 per kilo, depending on the variety and milling quality.

On the other hand, local palay traders are currently buying palay at P14.30 to P15.20 per kilo and offer an additional 50 centavos for the premium rice varieties.

The National Food Authority’s palay buying prices remained at P17 per kilo for individual farmers and P17.20 for members of farmers’ cooperatives.

The agency also offers an additional 40-centavo incentive to the cooperatives to cover for the transportation and drying costs. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)