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The Philippines should allocate P2 billion yearly for a full-blown rice sufficiency program
Frisco M. Malabanan, Department of Agriculture (DA) rice program director, said the government will be in a more advantageous position to take its rice sufficiency program seriously rather than keep the status quo of a foreign exchange-intense import regime.

"If we can only allocate P2 billion yearly we will be able to achieve self sufficiency. If we can plant hybrid on 800,000 to one million hectares, we will close the gap that will stop imports. That (budgeting P2 billion) is better than importing," he said in an interview. The foreign exchange cost of importing balloons to $456 million at a $285 per MT reference from the last biddings.

Malabanan said Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap has been eyeing an expansion of the present hybrid rice area so as to ensure rice sufficiency perhaps over the next five years. A study indicated that the country’s rice sufficiency goal will drag for 15 years given its pace.

From some 7,000 hectares planted to hybrid rice in 2001, area progressed to about 20,000 hectares in 2002, 100,000 in 2003, and 230,000 in 2004.

The Philippines has sufficient irrigated area for one million hectares for the water-intensive hybrid variety since there are available 800,000 hectares each for the dry and wet season.

Dante Uycoco, a former DA technician during Marcos’ time, said importation has brought down farmers’ income which used to be higher-valued.

"We should stop importing because this is the reason why poor farmers’ income is low and why there’s much corruption. During Marcos’ time, we became a rice exporter through Masagana 99," he said.

Malabanan said Yap has set the infrastructure toward rice sufficiency as P53 million post harvest (dryers, seed processors, storage) facilities are now being established.

"This is a grant to 13 cooperatives. The government needs to invest in post harvest facilities because this is capital-intensive; no private investors want it because the facilities are only used two months after harvest. Our thrust is to improve farmers’ entrepreneurial capability," he said.
MGR Archive 20.3.2005
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Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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