‘Eat more corn, camote’
As the National Food Authority (NFA) prepares to resume its distribution of rice to Cebu next Monday, it advised consumers to include camote (sweet potato) and corn in their diet.
“This is the proposal of the regional office to solve the rice shortage, go to other staple crops like corn and camote,” said Antonio Du, rice program action officer of the regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA-7).
Du said Cebu is among the lowest in the provinces in terms of rice sufficiency level in Central Visayas at only 2.3 percent.
Bohol province, considered as the “rice bowl” of the region, has a 93.3 percent rice sufficiency level.
He said Cebu is more dependent on provinces such as Iloilo for rice.
For now, DA-7 Information Officer Melquiades Ibarra said including camote, corn and brown rice in the diet can help offset the demand for rice among Cebu-based consumers.
NFA-7 Asst. Regional Director Yolanda Navarro said they will resume distribution of NFA rice to help ease market demand.
“NFA rice is intended for calamity victims but due to market demand we will resume distribution,” she said.
She said there are 93,261 bags of NFA rice left in their inventory as of Feb. 26.
“After that, hopefully we can buy from the farmers this harvest season (this month),” Navarro said.
She said the Grain Retailers Confederation (GRECON) in Cebu will meet today to prioritize areas for the distribution of NFA rice.
Navarro said they distributed NFA rice in the provinces of Bohol, Siquijor and Negros last Tuesday. “Medyo nahuli lang dito kasi malaki ang Cebu (Cebu was a little bit late since it is big),” she said.
The NFA-7 stopped distributing NFA rice to retailers in Central Visayas since Feb. 1 due to reduced stocks after last year’s lean harvest. The NFA requested for the importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice which is expected to arrive in June.
“NFA is not here to compete. That is why we recommended for the importation,” Navarro said.
As far as rice production in Central Visayas went, Du said the region produced 325,000 metric tons of rice last year, much higher that the 2016 rice production of 231,000 metric tons.
Du said they expect 105,000 metric tons of rice to be produced in the region on the first quarter of this year.
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