February 25, 2018, 12:12 am
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Rice self-sufficiency not sustainable

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is confident  the country will be able to hit 100 percent rice self-sufficiency by 2020 after hitting a 19.4 million metric tons (MT) palay production last year.

Emmanuel Piñol, DA secretary,  made this announcement  after  meeting  with the International Rice Research Institute and the Philippine Rice Research Institute.

Piñol said the country’s official rice self-sufficiency rate stands at 96 percent.

“All the three agencies yesterday agreed that officially, the Philippines is 96 percent rice sufficient; the remaining 4 percent amount to about 400,000 MT but buffer stock of country coming to 2018 from 2017 is 2.7 million MT good for 88 days added to that about 3.1 million MT rice in the first quarter of this year so total buffer stock at end of the quarter will be 5.8 million MT,” Piñol  said in a briefing in Quezon City yesterday.

Piñol said last year’s production is  the country’s highest recorded palay production.

He, however, said  rice self-sufficiency may not be sustained due to population growth.

“The best scenario (is)  about 5 to 10 years because as population grows… it will overtake our rice production because our rice farms are already limited,” Piñol said.

He said  programs to improve mechanization rate in the country as well as provisions of loans for farmer cooperatives to have their own milling facilities are being developed to lower the price of local commercial rice.

 “Unless we correct this age-old anomaly of traders and middlemen controlling the market, consumers will never feel the sufficiency of rice in the country. Food is available but not affordable. Farmers are not earning much, traders and middlemen are profiting but consumers are affected. We have no beef against businessmen but we believe that profit in the food industry should not hurt consumers nor decrease the income of farmers,” Piñol said.

Amid the shortage of the National Food Authority’s rice buffer stock, an audit is already set to check the transactions made by the latter that could have led to the current situation. - J. Macapagal
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