Alcala daydreaming of rice sufficiency by 2013
Secretary Proceso Alcala must be roused from his dreamy slumber with his projection of a surplus of rice at the end of 2013. Farmers like myself can attest to the fact that palay harvest is still pegged at an average of four metric tons or less per hectare. This is due to the continuing dismal government support given to rice farmers, government corruption which siphons off the already meager support allotted for farmers, and the frequent disasters and climate change-related calamities that destroy our rice crops. This government is totally oblivious of the sad plight of rice farmers.
The high projection of sufficiency is due to the flawed milling recovery rate formula which is placed at 65 percent—way too high for the average capacity of existing poor milling facilities in the country, which is capable of milling only at 55-61 percent. So, the Department of Agriculture’s projected 18 million metric tons of palay harvest for 2013, when milled at a 65-percent recovery rate will produce 11.9 million metric tons, or at 55-percent recovery rate only 10 million metric tons. We consume roughly 12 million metric tons of rice annually, or 33,000 metric tons a day. Using the existing capacity of our milling facilities, we clearly have a shortfall of roughly 2 million metric tons, roughly equivalent to two months rice consumption of the country.
Secretary Alcala must also have been dreaming when he promised consumers of stabilized rice price when harvest season came in September through October. But alas, the peak has long passed, and the promised cheap rice is nowhere to be found. Even the token cheap NFA rice in selected markets is no longer available. We fear that the rice price will stabilize at P40 per kilo and above and will no longer go back to the pre-price increase last July, which was P30-P32 per kilo. This will surely become a big burden for ordinary consumers.
We are faced now with skyrocketing rice price in the midst of abundant rice supply, if we are to believe Secretary Alcala. We deserve to be shown the real picture of the state of rice sufficiency in the country.
—LITA P. MARIANO,
spokesperson, Bantay Bigas,
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