DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 10 September) – The National Food Authority (NFA) here assured consumers of sufficient rice supply until December this year as 740,000 bags or 36,000 metric tons of rice would be distributed in the markets around Davao Region and parts of Region 12.
NFA 11 director Lester Romeo E. Malana told a press briefing on Monday at least 328,000 bags of rice are being stored as buffer stock at their warehouse for distribution in the region and in Sarangani province and General Santos City in Region 12.
He said they completed last week the unloading of at least half of the 740,000 bags. The remaining half would be delivered third week of this month as its share from the 250,000 MT rice imported by the government to cover the last quarter of this year.
He said the volume of NFA rice in the local markets is “above normal” to ensure sufficiency.
Malana urged consumers not to resort to panic buying to prevent worsening the market situation amid the rising inflation rate.
The country’s inflation rate soared to 6.4% in August surpassing the 5.7% recorded in July, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.
In Mindanao, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao posted the highest inflation rate at 8.1%; Zamboanga Peninsula, 6.4%; Northern Mindanao, 6.1%; Davao Region, 7.1%; Soccsksargen, 7.9%; and Caraga, 4.8%.
Malana said the NFA is monitoring the movement of rice prices.
National Economic Development Authority 11 director Maria Lourdes Lim said rice production increased by 17.6% or 232,137 MT in the first semester of 2018 compared to 197,348 MT in the same period last year.
But the increase could only supply 47% of the total rice requirements of the region and Sarangani and General Santos City and that they have to get additional supply from Bukidnon in Northern Mindanao and South and North Cotabato provinces.
Most of the rice farms in the region are prone to flooding whenever Liboganon and Agusan River Basins swell. These include the towns of Carmen, Braulio E. Dujali and Asuncion in Davao del Norte; Monkayo, Compostela and New Bataan in Compostela Valley; and Malita, Davao Occidental and Hagonoy in Davao del Sur.
Another problem confronting rice production is the conversion of rice farms to banana plantations, housing sites and other industrial zones, he said.
“In terms of comparative advantage, we really have a winning edge in terms of high value crops over rice. The region is top producer of bananas, coconuts, and cacao,” he said.
He said they recommended to NFA Council to increase the imported rice allocation of the region to address the supply gap as a short-term solution; intensify irrigation services particularly the infrastructure projects of the National Irrigation Administration and Department of Agriculture to increase rice productivity; restore existing national and communal irrigation facilities; and embark on research and development initiatives and explore the technology developed by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development to attain rice sufficiency. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)