DA to stop rice farm shift to bananas
Davao City (1 March) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) has issued a memorandum refraining the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) from issuing clearance to farmers who would want to convert irrigated rice farms into banana plantations.
DA Undersecretary for Operation Jesus Emmanuel Parras yesterday revealed that massive conversion of rice fields into banana plantations has become DA's concern prompting DA Secretary Arturo Yap to issue such directive last month.
"Effective this year, walang nang ma-approve na conversion," he said in a press conference at the Apo View Hotel where DA was recently holding its second round of Food Summit for Mindanao.
He, however said that the shift has barely affected the overall area of rice production areas since only about 10,000 hectares have been converted of the total 1.5 million hectares of irrigated rice lands.
DA Regional Director Roger Chio cited as "perennial" such shifting to banana from rice in Davao del Norte from where the country's huge volume of export bananas comes from.
Paras said DA is closely watching this trend so the overall rice production of the country would not be endangered.
"Over other commodity, rice ang inuuna natin," he said.
Paras, however, said that the country's rice supply sufficiency has remained stable despite the production conversion into banana from rice.
"As I said, we are 90 percent sufficient of rice," he said.
He said the country produces nine million metric tons of the 11 million metric tons consumption requirement and that it intends to import this year only 1.6 metric tons.
However, DA is looking at the climate change as a possible threat to rice production capacity of the country.
He said a problem might occur if rice-producing countries which might be adversely hit by the climate change would be no longer be selling their rice to other countries.
He revealed that there now emerges a global huge demand for rice consequently pushing import price to $400/mt from $200/mt tons, as global warming is seen to affect crop production. (PIA/JMDA) [top]