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Rice target still on track

Republika

AS IT STANDS | Roman Floresca

A higher level of rice adequacy – this is the target this year of the Department of Agriculture (DA). That’s right and the DA would have passed on with flying colors except for those series of super typhoons that waylaid a lot of projects, government or otherwise.


The DA announced that the administration’s goal is to achieve a higher level of rice adequacy despite climate induced disasters and logistical roadblocks brought about by man-made problems or otherwise. Agriculture Secretary William Dar said having enough rice to eat remains one of the top priorities of the government this year.


He said the events of the current year have been the turning point for the Department of Agriculture (DA) to shift its policies, strategies and resources towards more climate-resilient and innovative agriculture.


“My vision is to see productive, globally competitive and resilient agriculture where Filipino farmers prosper. This has been my battlecry and we will do what it takes to make this vision a reality soon,” Dar said.


The pandemic has little effect on the country’s rice and total agricultural production. But the damage due to the trio of climatic events that pushed back the earlier rice adequacy target of 93 percent this year has made the DA look back on its programs, Dar said.


Our adequacy level is down to 90 to 91 percent. Let us wait for the fourth quarter palay production output, he added.


For the last quarter this year, rice production is expected to reach 7.42 million metric tons, bringing the total palay production to 19.32 million MT, 2.7 percent more than last year’s, said assistant secretary Andrew Villacorta, who leads the DA’s national rice program (NRP).


I remember the time when we had our first surplus of rice after so many years of being short. That was in the mid-70s. We were exporting rice mostly to Indonesia. The great Arturo Tanco, who was then the agriculture minister, was called to the Batasang Pambansa to answer a few questions regarding our exports of rice.


I remember quite well the answer of Mr. Tanco over the question: Did we lose so much while we exported rice to these countries? We were expecting a flat “No” to that question but instead he answered a resounding “Yes”. In fact, he said, we lost more than what was reported, because as a merchant you don’t only get to the market when the price is good. You get to the market whether the price is good or bad because if you wait for prices to go up, you’ll lose your customer.


As it is right now, we are not yet ready to export rice but who knows we will soon be exporting the commodity.


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