Agriculture chief remains bullish about rice sufficiency in Philippines by 2013By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala remains bullish on the goal that the Philippines would no longer import rice after 2013 despite the threat of extreme weather.
In a media interview on Monday, Alcala expressed confidence in the ability of the Philippines to become rice sufficient by 2013.
“Last year, we just imported 850,000 MT, which was 1/3 of our previous import. This 2012, we authorized the importation of 500,000 MT and we hope that after 2013, we will have zero importation,” Alcala explained. Instead of spending government money for overseas rice purchases, the government should allot the funds to local farmers, he said.
The DA said it has been expecting first semester harvest to be better than the figures in 2011. A forecast by the DA said the January-June 2012 production could reach 7.78 million MT. This is 2.7% above the 2011 level of 7.58 million MT.
These could be attributed to the availability of planting materials and the expected wet summer brought by the La Niña phenomenon.
Although the La Niña system, which would bring above-normal rainfall in the Philippines, could help farmers in the first semester, the DA warned that it could be disastrous to farmlands in the second semester.
In 2011, rice farmers harvested 16.68 million metric tons of rice, lower than the initial projection of 17.4 million metric tons. According to a recent DA report, the storms in the second half of 2011 damaged over one million metric tons of rice, most of it in Central and Northern Luzon.
In 2012, Alcala said the department would adjust the planting season to make sure that the farmers would harvest their crops by September and avoid the brunt of the fierce typhoons that usually hit Luzon in October.