DUMAGUETE CITY – As the harvest season kicks off in Negros Oriental, the local Department of Agriculture (DA) office anticipates a further decrease in retail rice prices. Alejandro Rafal, the provincial officer of the DA-Provincial Agriculture Technology Coordinating Office (PATCO), expressed this outlook during a recent conversation with the Philippine News Agency (PNA). He explained that although Negros Oriental isn’t self-sufficient in rice production, the commencement of the harvest season holds the potential to reduce the cost of this dietary staple, even after the recent lifting of the price cap mandated by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. through Executive Order 39.
Mr. Rafal believes that this potential reduction in rice prices could help stabilize the supply of rice in the province while also giving local farmers a much-needed boost to their income. The primary driver for this optimistic outlook is the ongoing harvest season, which historically has led to improved rice availability and affordability for consumers.
Negros Oriental has traditionally been an essential rice-producing province, and the current harvest season stands as an opportunity to strengthen this position. The province’s efforts to increase rice production have been complemented by the National Food Authority (NFA), which has set a buying price of PHP19 per kilogram for palay (unhusked rice) and a selling price of PHP23 per kilogram for rice.
Rafal further disclosed that several local government units (LGUs) in Negros Oriental have stepped up to support their local farmers by providing subsidies ranging from PHP2 to PHP5 per kilogram of palay purchased by the NFA. These LGUs actively participated in the Palay Marketing Assistance Program for Legislators and Local Government Units (PALLGU), offering additional financial support to supplement the NFA’s buying price of rice. These proactive steps taken by the LGUs are expected to improve the livelihoods of local farmers and, in turn, support the sustainability of the rice industry in the province.
While the precise volume of rice harvested is not yet available, Rafal’s office is actively processing data from the various LGUs. Negros Oriental boasts 22 towns and cities that are pivotal in rice production, including prominent areas like Bayawan City, Canlaon City, and Ayungon. These regions play a crucial role in the province’s agricultural landscape and are expected to contribute significantly to this year’s harvest.
Over the past several months, more than 11,000 hectares of land in Negros Oriental have been dedicated to rice cultivation. This extensive land allocation reflects the region’s commitment to increasing its rice production capacity and contributing to overall food security. Based on the agency’s seed distribution data, the province is poised to yield approximately 31,865 metric tons of harvestable rice grain. Rafal noted that if we compute an average yield of 3.2 to 4 tons per hectare, the province could potentially achieve an overall yield of 60,000 metric tons. This robust output will not only benefit local farmers but is also expected to exert downward pressure on rice prices, making the staple more affordable for consumers throughout Negros Oriental. (PNA)