Despite drought, rice stocks still sufficient in Visayas
CEBU – There is enough supply of rice in Central Visayas despite the severe dry season due to El Nino, according to the National Food Authority.
NFA Assistant Regional Director Nestor Rey Alcoseba said the country imported 750,000 metric tons of rice and that initial stocks had arrived in November last year.
“Of the total figure, 2.18 million bags are allocated for Central Visayas,” said Alcoseba.
He said the rice importation was done in anticipation of the El Niño where rice production was expected to suffer from the extreme dry season.
Though El Niño did not impact much on CentralVisayas rice production because the region is not a rice producer.
Francisco Sopsop, chief of the Planning Division of Department of Agriculture, agreed that rice production in the region is not sufficient for its own consumption and that Central Visayas is dependent on rice imports to supply the consumption needs of the locals.
Alcoseba said the importation volume of 750,000 metric tons is only good for 62 days without the participation of commercial importers; meaning, if only NFA is the one supplying the rice consumption needs of the country.
He said private rice importers are also getting an estimated 300,000 metric tons from abroad.
It cannot be determined yet if the importation volume is enough for this year with the continuing drought as the Inter-Agency on Food Security Committee on Rice meets every quarter to discuss on updates. The NFA is a member of the committee.
“It is very important that we know the production data from the DA and the PSA to be able to calculate the shortage and how much we are going to import,” said Alcoseba.
"What is important is that we have beefed up rice stocks and that there are no fears of price hike in rice amid the El Niño," he said.
Sopsop also said the goal of rice self-sufficiency for the country is not yet attainable in the future with the devastation caused by El Niño and an upcoming threat of La Niña.