High rice prices seen to linger in South Cotabato until peak harvest in October

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KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 20 August) – Commercial rice prices in South Cotabato province will remain expensive until bulk palay harvests come in by October, agriculture officials said on Tuesday.

At the provincial launching here of the “National Year of Rice,” Department of Agriculture (DA) officials blamed the high prices of premium commercial rice, which breached the P40 per kilo mark last month, to the lean palay harvest in the province.

Roque Hilario, National Food Authority (NFA) provincial assistant manager, said they are set to release to the market well-milled rice stocks at P32 per kilo as an alternative to the expensive commercial rice.

This is on top of the NFA regular milled rice already injected to various markets in the province to offset the skyrocketing prices of the commodity, he added.

“Anytime this week we’ll be conducting the test milling of these middle-priced rice at P32 per kilo,” he told reporters, noting that the agency has 13,000 bags of palay for this purpose.

Prices of commercial premium rice rose by P8 per kilo from P35 to P43 in the markets in this city, the seat of government of Region 12, in the last few weeks due to tight supply.

Last month, Hilario said the NFA injected 3,309 bags of rice to the commercial market, sold at P27 per kilo, as part of the agency’s intervention to avoid supply shortage in the area.

Lean palay harvest in South Cotabato started in April and expected to last until September, he said.

Aurelio Banggay, Bureau of Agricultural Statistics provincial chief, said that an estimated 22,000 hectares of palay farms in the province are expected to be harvested starting October until the end of the year.

Bulk of the harvest will come from the upper valley portions of South Cotabato consisting of the towns of Banga, Surallah, Norala and Sto. Nino.

Amalia Jayag-Datukan, DA-12 regional director, said they are expecting plentiful rice harvest across the region starting also in October.

Region 12 also comprises the provinces of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.

“Our palay harvest season is now approaching and we’re expecting surplus yields until December,” Datukan said in a statement.

She noted that the region’s harvestable palay area from August to December is pegged at 193,789 hectares and are projected to yield 753,647 metric tons (MT).

From August to September, she said a total of 23,179 hectares of palay are due for harvest and is expected to yield 94,171 MT.

An additional 43,019 hectares with a projected yield of 173,795 MT will be harvested from September to October, Datukan said.

From October to December, Datukan said they expect to harvest a total of 515,457 MT of palay from 127,991 hectares of farmlands.

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