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PIA Press Release

Shifting to high value crops take toll on rice sufficiency

by JMD Abangan

Davao City (6 February) -- Rice sufficiency level in the Davao Region last year seriously suffered due to crop shifting.

Guesting in Kapihan sa PIA (Philippine Information Agency), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director Ma. Lourdes Lim revealed that rice sufficiency level of the region last year went down by 9 percentage points.

Lim said the decrease was caused by "individual decision" of rice farmers to shift to high value crops production.

Among the factors which had triggered such decision were the high cost of rice production input, end of subsidy given to farmers on rice production, and the lure of enjoying high income from high value crops.

NEDA data showed that rice sufficiency in 2009 went down to 63. 70 percent from 72.9 percent in 2008.

NEDA explained that this means only 63.7 percent of the entire population of Davao Region could be sufficiently supplied with the level of rice production of the region in 2009.

With the decrease in rice sufficiency, the region widened its import level of rice in 2009, Lim said.

NEDA noted that most of the areas previously planted with rice were devoted to Banana for export, Durian and cacao.

"The decision to shift to other crops rests on the farmers," NEDA Assistant Regional Director Bonifacio Uy said.

Bonifacio, in the same forum, confirmed that the Department of Agriculture (DA) issued a circular prohibiting the conversion of irrigated rice areas to any high value crops.

While the government can prohibit conversion of rice lands, Bonifacio said policies at the local government level would do well in putting a restraint to such practice for the sake of food sufficiency. (PIA XI) [top]

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