Is it time for Agriculture Secretary Alcala to ‘quit’? | Inquirer Opinion
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Is it time for Agriculture Secretary Alcala to ‘quit’?

/ 10:56 PM September 27, 2013

Are calls for Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to quit for his alleged “failure” to meet production targets for rice-sufficiency justified? (“Rice woes continue as calls for top DA exec to quit mount,” Across the Nation, 9/18/13)

Alcala maintains that the 20 million metric tons (MT) of projected  palay output for 2013 will be attained once the remaining  fourth quarter harvests are in. The 20 million MT output is equivalent to 12.8 million MT of milled rice.

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On the other hand, lawyer Argee Guevarra quotes the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) data showing that the projected harvest in 2013 is only 18.45 million MT of palay, meaning there would be a “shortfall of about 2 million MT.” Guevarra’s 18.45 million MT of palay translates into 11.81 million MT of milled rice, differing from Alcala’s projection by 8 percent.

Against this backdrop, what exactly is the country’s rice requirement for a huge 98.8 million population for 2013?

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Let’s cite official per capita rice consumption data based on actual studies and surveys—by the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) 6th Food Consumption Survey, and the BAS  “Survey of Food Demand for Agricultural Commodities in the Philippines,” both released in mid-2010. The BAS survey covered 13,880 households, 1,388 barangays, 81 provinces, two cities and the National Capital Region. In brief, the salient points relevant to the raging controversy follow:

1. The FNRI reported annual rice per capita consumption, inclusive of rice cakes and noodles, at 116 kilos per year, or 11.460 million MT a year, which is equivalent to 17.9 million MT of palay versus the disputed figures on projected palay harvest of 18.45 million MT-20 million MT of palay for 2013.

2. The BAS survey arrived at 119 kilos of milled rice per year or 11.760 million MT, which is equivalent to 18.380 million MT of palay against the 18.45 million MT-20 million  MT  of projected 2013 palay harvest.

From the foregoing, it would appear that indeed the Philippines is close to rice-sufficiency, unless official and actual consumption surveys by the DOST and the BAS are deemed unreliable.

Calls for Alcala’s resignation appear baseless, if not premature!

—MANUEL Q. BONDAD,

[email protected]

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TAGS: agriculture, Letters to the Editor, opinion, Proceso Alcala
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