DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 August) – Farmers in Mindanao should produce “premium” quality rice for export to Papua New Guinea amid decreasing prices of the commodity as a result of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Import and Export Liberalization Law, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Emmanuel Piñol said.
Piñol on Monday met with top PNG officials, among them Ambassador Betty Palaso and Vice Minister Mannaseh Makiba, to discuss the possibility of exporting rice from Mindanao.
“I invited our friends from Papua New Guinea because one of the first projects that we will undertake is to initially export premium Mindanao rice to Papua New Guinea. They are importing rice as of the moment,” he said.
The new MinDA chair urged Mindanawon farmers to seize this opportunity.
“Mindanao will be ready to export premium because the Papua New Guinea people have a lot of money. They have so much money and they say ‘we don’t care about the price, give us quality rice,” he said.
Piñol said the falling rice prices due to the entry of cheaper imported rice from other Southeast Asian countries have affected farmers in Mindanao.
He said the consumers would prefer cheaper imported rice to local rice.
He added the only way to help the local farmers to survive the competition is to tap a niche market of the premium rice.
“You know, right now, our farmers have problems because of the entry of cheap imported rice. Halos wala mamalit sa ilang humay (Almost nobody wants to buy local rice). The only way for us is to produce high-quality premium rice for export to other countries like Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Singapore,” he said.
He said there are areas in Mindanao that are capable of producing export quality rice, including Banaybanay in Davao Oriental, North Cotabato, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)