No rice self-sufficiency in 2013 – DA Agency
September 18, 2013
The Department of Agriculture (DA) will not be able to meet its 2013 rice self-sufficiency targets by December, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) admitted at the recent joint inquiry of the House Committee on Agriculture and Special Committee on Food Security.
Recently, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the figures show that there is no truth to reports that the 2013 targets will not be met. He claimed that rice production would hit 20 million MT this year, an amount that would be enough to feed 97 million Filipinos.
However, Asst. Secretary Romeo Recide, BAS director, disputed this claim when he testified before the joint House committee in connection with the inquiry on the sudden rise in rice prices and reports of insufficient stocks this year.
BAS is an office under the agency mandated per Executive Order 116 s. 1987 “to collect, compile and release official agricultural statistics” and “coordinate all agricultural statistics and economic research activities of all bureaus, corporations and offices under the DA.”
According to Recide, optimistic projections showed that the country would be producing 18.45 million MT of rice, 2.55 million MT short of the 21 million MT needed for the country to be rice self-sufficient, according to the 2011-2016 Food Staples Security Program (FSSP). He cited the figures from a study prepared by the DA itself.
Meanwhile, activist lawyer Argee Guevarra, slammed the agriculture chief for “playing politics with figures that could affect the lives of Filipinos.”
Guevarra was the first to bring up irregularities in the rice importation program of the DA and National Food Authority (NFA).
He said the President, convinced by the DA’s report that the country was “on target” and would be rice self-sufficient by 2013, had included it in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July.
In a related development, the Agriculture Secretary assured the public that the price of rice in the market will start to normalize with the start of the harvest in major palay-producing areas in the country.
He also reiterated that there is ample supply of rice in the country.
“There is no reason to panic. We are expecting that rice prices will normalize in a few days, as palay harvest is starting, particularly in major rice producing provinces,” Alcala said.
“Our farmers up north have started harvesting last week and will continue until harvest season in October. Farmers from other rice-producing provinces will follow,” he added.
Rice industry leaders said rice supply and price situation in their respective regions are all in control, refuting reports that there is a rice shortage. The leaders represented rice-producing areas in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Western Visayas, and SOCCSKARGEN.
They are Herculano Co, of PhilConGrains; Jaime Magbanua, of the Confederation of Grains Retailers Associations; Estrellita mariano of Bantay Bigas; Cathy Estabillo of Pederasyon ng Kababaihang Magbubukid; Willie Marbella of Kilusan ng Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; and Edwin Paraluman of Philippine Farmers Advisory Board.
Meanwhile, National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Orlan Calayag said “the NFA inventory is bigger this year, compared to the same period last year, and so we don’t foresee any shortage.”
He said the NFA will continue to buy palay from farmers at P17 per kilo, and in the process increase its palay and rice inventory. He said the NFA has a carryover of 2 million metric tons of rice from last year. (With a report from Ellalyn B. De Vera)