Rice supply in city critical

THE RICE supply in the city is in “highly critical category” due to its “almost negligible areas dedicated for palay,” an official of the National Food Authority (NFA) said.

NFA Provincial Manager Edegary Roncal said there is a need to augment rice supply in the city due to its decreasing level of supply.

“There is a need for the government to have augmentation stocks for this time,” Roncal told reporters during the iSpeak Media Forum held at City Hall yesterday.

Roncal said there is a possibility that there might not be enough supply of rice in the city as the lean season starts by June.

The situation will likely cause an increase in the price of rice, Roncal said, due to low supply, “which is we are currently monitoring.”

If the government can’t intervene with the shortage of rice supply now, it would no longer be able to apply its stabilization function.

Roncal said the city is entirely dependent from the in-flow of rice supply coming from neighboring areas such Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental.

Some rice supply here also comes from neighboring region such as SOCCSKSARGEN (Region 12) and Caraga (Region 13), being one of the highly rice producing areas in the country.

From January to March this year, there was supply coming from the Minimum Access Volume Program, a government-backed program wherein the private sectors will import rice from other countries.

In that period, around 800,000 bags of rice entered the city coming from Vietnam and Thailand as part of the rice augmentation in the city.

The NFA has other rice augmentation coming from other areas.

In the first week of May, the city is expected rice augmentation coming from the Visayas  particularly from Iloilo City with almost 5,000 metric tons of rice.

City Agriculture Office Operations head Jovencio Umaging said the volume of rice produced in the city for one harvest season is not enough to feed the city residents in a month.

“The rice area in Davao City produces only less than 10 percent of the required rice supply in the city,” he said.

As much as they would want to produce the requirement of rice supply, Umaging said there is only a limited area in the city available and appropriated for rice plantation.

He said there is only small number of areas in the city conducive for rice production, citing that one of the major problems is water irrigation.

“Although we are looking for some areas in Paquibato District as potential for rice production, it entails so many expenses, especially in putting up irrigation systems,” Umaging said.

Umaging said they have already met with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) as they were able to discover about 2,000 hectares in Paquibato District as areas conducive for rice production and irrigation system.

Further, he added that one of the promotions of City Agriculture Office to address the decreasing rice supply is the production of root crops such as corn and cassava for additional product consumption of the city.

“We are looking towards alternative sources of these carbohydrates product, including the cassava and camote,” Umaging said. Warren Elijah E. Valdez

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