The National Food Authority (NFA) has released 622,683 bags of rice from March 31 to June 19, 2020 for the calamity response of local government units (LGU) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
NFA assistant regional director Lolita Paz said on Wednesday that based on inventory, they still have more than 400,000 bags of rice that is good for eight days. If commercial and household stocks in the region are included, stocks would last for 65 days.
Paz said their procurement is ongoing although they do not expect much harvests as it is planting season and considered as lean months.
“Fortunately, here in Region 6 (Western Visayas) there are household inventories and there are those who sell their palay to NFA. We continue to procure palay from them,” she said in an interview.
She added that Western Visayas does not only produce palay for the region but also supports other rice deficit areas such as Central and Eastern Visayas regions.
“For your information, the transfer of stocks is ongoing to support them. We are fortunate here in Panay because we have a very sufficient production,” she said.
This year NFA Western Visayas was allotted PHP36 million for its procurement program. So far, around 600,000 bags of the targetted 1.285 million bags have been procured.
“We expect half of the procurement by the next harvest in September. Since last time we were able to procure more than 1.5 million starting September last year. With the partnership with local government units, we hope to procure again the 1.2 million bags,” she said.
She added that provincial managers were instructed to closely coordinate with local government units and farmers’ association for the procurement.
Rene Famoso, Department of Agriculture (DA) regional technical director for Western Visayas, in a press conference on Tuesday, said they expect to have a higher production this wet season, especially from those that are using hybrid seeds.
He said that the production in the region could reach eight to 10 tons per hectare.
With the various interventions provided to palay farmers, he said DA is looking forward to a 125 percent rice sufficiency from the current 112 to 115 percent sufficiency level.
The department is targeting 85 to 90 percent of the 322,000 hectares of palay areas in the region to be planted this wet season.
Currently, though around 30 to 40 percent of the target area is already planted with palay. (PNA)