The Glutenous Politics on Rice

To many who eat always with rice as part of the regular meal, the knowledge that the country is awash in supply of the commodity is one good news.

Or, not! For even if that figure of speech phrase “we’re swimming in rice” has become byword on the news, has it ever brought the price of rice down in the local town market?

And as if to dampen the prevailing sentiment on that newly found “truth,” a rallying point for people to vent anger and blame at whom we know, here comes the NFA in the province of Catanduanes reporting that its warehouses’ stock can’t last for three months.

Maybe contrary, and much different from the prevailing situation in other regions, the Bicol province has 95,884 bags of imported rice as of 29th of July. The local agency distributes 34,000 sacks of NFA rice monthly or a market share of between 40 to 45 per cent in the province. The majority of between 60 and 65 per cent being the volume handled by commercial traders.

Catanduanes has an authorized volume of 324,000 bags for the current year of which 123,583 bags still remain to be delivered on its warehouses. Traditionally, the months of August and September are lean being non-rice harvest season. But even during harvest time the province could not come up with the needs of the population, hence the total reliance on outside rice source.

Meanwhile, NFA-Bicol stressed that the region’s annual rice production is 13,111,387 bags while the annual consumption requirement is 17,052,800 bags. There is a clear shortfall of 3,941,413 sacks.

There should have been a silver lining on this. If only the local miller-traders become aggressive again in buying the produce from farmers in producing provinces of CamSur, CamNorte, Albay and Sorsogon a steady supply of rice could be guaranteed. Instead, traders from other regions descend upon Bicol and buy the hefty produce from the farms.

The province of Catanduanes has a population of 232,757 as of 2007 official census.


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