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PIA Press Release

RDC Mindanao tackles rice, other critical issues

Davao City (15 August) -- The Regional Development Committee (RDCom) for Mindanao of the NEDA Board convened at the Marco Polo Hotel, Davao City yesterday to discuss critical issues and challenges of Mindanao. The Mindanao cluster is one of the 3 island clusters of NEDA-Board RDCom. The other two are for Luzon and the Visayas.

This was revealed by RDC-Com Mindanao Secretary and NEDA XI Regional Director Nicasio Angelo J. Agustin who also said that the meeting was the Mindanao cluster's 8th since it was created by virtue of Executive Order 257 issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on December 15, 2003. He said it is also the 2nd since RDC XI Chair and Mindanao Business Council President Vicente T. Lao was elected Mindanao Representative to the RD Com in May this year.

Director Agustin said that the Committee tackled the Mindanao rice situation, the adverse implications of the Cabotage law on agricultural and industrial development of Mindanao, the long delays in the processing and issuance of the new machine-readable passports, the need to rationalize the issuance of mining permits with other regional priorities, such as forestry development, agricultural conversion, and biodiversity, and the stringent DOE guidelines in the provision of financial benefits to communities hosting power generation projects, among others.

Director Agustin added that in particular the RDCom-Mindanao recommended a comprehensive solution to the rice problem and this included the conduct of an extensive study on the long-term potential of Mindanao lands for rice sufficiency. The study will involve not only inventory of lands suitable for rice production but also areas that will likely suffer from rice shortages in the future.

He said that this study would at least allow that government to immediately provide appropriate interventions to prevent a similar rice crisis that caught many by surprise during the first half of this year.

He further informed that the study would also look into current public investments and future requirements for irrigation systems and post-harvest facilities. The flow of rice supply including rice trading would also be carefully looked into to avert possible abnormal upward spikes in the commodity's prices in the future.

The RDCom-Mindanao Secretary pointed that toward the end of the first semester this year rice prices in Mindanao topped P50 a kilo when prices in Metro Manila and Luzon were kept below P40 a kilo. This horrendous rice price hike pushed the inflation rate for food in Mindanao to more than 20 percent, even reaching as high as 30 percent in Caraga region.

Director Agustin reported that RDCom will submit its resolutions on the issues discussed to appropriate bodies, particularly the NEDA Board, for their immediate response. He added that RDCom-Mindanao will continue to take an active role in addressing long-standing issues and challenges facing the island and help Mindanao perform its role in the nation's development. (NEDA-PIA XI) [top]

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