“Annual consumption [of the staple in] Sorsogon is 1,956,400 bags of rice,” Caliwag said. “[However, 2012] yielded 2,602,761 bags of palay [unhusked rice] only, based on validated Bureau of Agricultural Statistics data.”
The figure is equal to 1,691,794 bags of milled rice, short by 264,606 bags to meet the province’s consumption requirement.
“This, however, is considered less critical, based on sufficiency level,” Caliwag said.
He linked the shortage to poor palay production in the province, unfavorable weather and local rice traders’ shipments of locally grown grains to the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Northern Samar.
In an effort to meet demand, the NFA bought 109,154 bags of palay. The figure is equal to 70,950 bags of milled rice, according to Caliwag.
He said that every 1.54 kilograms of palay the NFA procures accounts for 1 kilo of regular milled rice, and 1.58 kilograms for a kilo of well-milled rice.
To encourage farmers to sell their grains, the food agency bought clean and dry palay for P17 per kilogram, with additional 20 centavos per kilo given to farmers who will dry the grains and P20 per kilo to those who will deliver them. Caliwag called it “government-support price,” which is set at P17.40 per kilo.
An extra 30 centavos was offered to members of cooperatives that are honored by the NFA, slightly raising the price further to P17.70 per kilo.
Delivery incentives, which were revised and took effect in September 2012, took into account the laying distance from where the grains originated to the NFA’s purchasing stations.
Caliwag said no imported rice had entered Sorsogon, noting that only provinces with very critical sufficiency levels had imports of the staple.
NFA will think of strategies to achieve this year’s procurement target and increase the volume of buffer stock to meet any immediate demand for rice, according to the agency official. This includes organizing procurement teams for remote areas, establishing fast-track lanes for “die-hard” and small farmers, improving services, campaigning through media and opening purchasing stations on holidays if needed.
Caliwag hopes that enough rice will be produced this year to meet demand.
The article is published on Business World on January 17, 2013.