Palawan solons ask Reyes for P2.5M rice subsidy

TO PROVIDE solution to the persistently increasing rice prices in the province, Board member Ernesto Llacuna is proposing for Governor Joel T. Reyes to allocate P2.5 million to be distributed to municipalities to subsidize the production of rice.

In a resolution he authored, Llacuna said 5,000-10,000 farmers can benefit from certified seeds under a 50-50 scheme sharing that can be implemented. Around 10,500 bags of certified seeds can be distributed to all rice-growing municipalities that can help sustain rice production for the province.

Palawan, he said, is one of the provinces that have a large potential for rice farming. Base on the record of the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPA), around 74,000 hectare are being planted with rice every year that have a total production of 260,000 metric tons of palay.

Llacuna stated that if the 260,000 metric tons of palay will be made into rice without the supply that will be used for next cropping, they will be equivalent to a 170% increase in the supply of rice based on consumption level.

But the 170% self-sufficiency can decrease if it will start this year because of the increase in prices of farm inputs, such as fertilizers, seedlings and pesticides that are needed. This can affect the increase in prices and also the rice production of farmers because they would opt to use ordinary seedlings than purchase quarantined ones and use fertilizers that cost less.

He said that having the rice subsidy for rice-growing municipalities is a recommendation too of the OPA to help farmers in increasing rice production.

“The provincial government should have a contingency measure and we are recommending the rice subsidy for rice-growing municipalities. At least, the provincial government can help many farmers spend less on certified seeds,” he added.

In Puerto Princesa at the New City Public Market in Barangay San Jose, where most farm products are delivered first during weekends, rice prices have noticeably gone up. The cheapest kilo of rice costs P25 while the highest is being sold at P35-P36. Llacuna said this is surprising because prices have already gone down in other provinces.

He informed that information has also reached him that in other towns, rice is being sold at very, very high prices, sometimes reaching P74.

He called on the National Food Authority (NFA) to coordinate with concerned agencies and verify the report so appropriate solutions can be done since it is hard for the provincial government to do something about rice price regulation.

“Maybe through the coordinated efforts of the NFA, Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry, something can be done about this,” the board member said.

Llacuna’s resolution has already been forwarded to the Committee on Agriculture in the Provincial Board for the next deliberation. If the resolution is approved, he said it can be done this May until December 2008.


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