GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 (Soccksargen) urged consumers on Monday to buy more locally-produced rice and other food products to help increase the income of local farmers.
Arlan Mangelen, DA-12 executive director, said the move would encourage palay farmers to increase their production and address the unstable commercial buying prices in parts of the region.
He said it would eventually ensure the availability of quality and affordable rice to local consumers as well as improve the area’s food self-sufficiency.
“It has been our advocacy and top priority to increase our rice production and lessen our dependence on imports,” he said in a radio interview.
Mangelen said such a campaign is the focus of the 2020 National Rice Awareness Month celebration, which formally kicked off here last Friday.
This year’s theme is “Grow Local. Buy Local. Eat Local. #SuppportourRiceFarmers.”
The official said the region has been producing enough local rice and the agency is complementing this by making sure that the quality is maintained until they reach the consumers.
He cited the provision of necessary farm machineries, seeds, fertilizers, and other inputs as well as technical assistance on emerging production technologies.
In 2019, Soccsksargen produced a total of 1,187,279 metric tons (MT) of rice, accounting for 28.27 percent of Mindanao’s production and the highest among the six regions. It is the seventh highest in the entire country with a production share of 16.31 percent.
Mangelen said the agency has expanded its interventions to local rice farmers to improve the production rate per hectare, which was recorded at an average of 3.66 MT last year.
He said farmers should be more flexible in adopting technologies, especially in terms of production and post-harvest aspects.
“The direction of our assistance is how to make the planting to harvesting cycle faster and for our farmers to save on production costs in the process,” Mangelen said.
He said they are currently pushing for the proper regulation on the entry of imported rice in the area during the peak harvest season, which occurs from August to September.
Commercial buying prices in the region dropped to as low as PHP13 a kilo last year following the passage and implementation of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law. (PNA)