Solon warns of rice supply crisis

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has urged the Department of Agriculture to make significant investments to produce a homegrown bumper rice crop during the dry cropping season, which starts next month and peaks in November.

Salceda made the call in light of reports of drought in the Yangtze River, which feeds into some of the country’s primary sources of imported rice.

“China’s Yangtze river regions are experiencing bad spells of drought this year, and there are indications that the Mekong River (Lancang River before it leaves China’s borders) could suffer similar issues,” said Salceda, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.

“They have the same source. That’s not good for our rice supply, because Thailand and Vietnam rely heavily on the Mekong for rice production,” he stressed.

The economist-lawmaker revealed that Myanmar also suffers from lower rice production, as some agricultural areas have been affected by civil strife. India, the country’s primary non-ASEAN source of imported rice, is also suffering drought in some key areas.

“I’m not trying to sound negative, given all the other crises we have to deal with. But I think, now that we can see the problems ahead before they can come, we have a chance to act. We have a 30-day window before the dry cropping season starts,” said the solon.

Salceda revealed that the 10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund had been nearly filled up for this year by January to June rice tariff collections which could be available funds for preparatory support for rice farmers.

Since the rice cropping season starts in September and peaks around November, Salceda noted that the DA still has an opportunity to design a complete farm support program that provides rice farmers with drought-resistant seeds, fertilizers and other inputs.

The lawmaker added that the timely distribution of the rice farmers’ financial assistance, downloaded by the DBM to the DA already, will also be beneficial.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *