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Typhoons pushed back DA’s rice adequacy target for 2020, says Agri chief

The recent strong typhoons - Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses - that hit the country in the latter part of the year have pushed back the achievement of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) rice supply adequacy target for 2020.

In a statement on Thursday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that while the COVID-19 pandemic has minimal impact on the country’s rice and total agricultural production, he said “it is the damage due to a series of typhoons that pushed back the DA's earlier rice adequacy target of 93%.”

"Due to a series of typhoons, we lost about 322,041 metric tons (MT) of palay, which is roughly equivalent to an eight-day rice supply. Hence, our adequacy level is about 90 to 91%,” Dar said.

“Let us wait for the fourth quarter palay production output. However, rest assured we have enough rice by the end of December 2020, equivalent to three months supply," he said.

The DA is targeting a production of 20.34 million MT of palay or paddy rice this year, which is 8% more than the total harvest of 18.8 million MT in 2019.

"The rice sector has been doing well amid the pandemic. For the first three quarters, rice production reached 11.9 million MT, exceeding initial expectations. But then, the typhoons hit, affecting our major rice producing provinces,” Dar said.

For the last quarter of 2020, rice production is expected to reach 7.42 million MT, which will bring this year’s total palay output to 19.32 million MT, 2.7% more than in 2019.

Nevertheless, Dar said the goal to achieve a higher level of rice supply adequacy remains on track despite climate-induced disasters and logistical roadblocks brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first and second quarter of 2021, the DA targets to produce 9.02 million MT from an aggregate 1.149 million hectares nationwide.

It said the volume will come from three major rice initiatives, namely the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) that provides a total P10 billion annually; regular national rice program, focusing on hybrids; and expanded RCEF program, covering additional areas for inbred rice production.

For the entire 2021, the DA has an initial target of 20.48 million MT of palay.

To achieve this, Dar said the DA will optimize the use of both quality inbred and hybrid seeds for rainfed and irrigated areas nationwide, and improve efficiency in the allocation and distribution of the P10-billion RCEF for farm machinery, inbred rice seeds, credit, training, and extension.

The DA also proposed for 2021 a total budget of P15.5 billion that includes the provision of hybrid seeds at P6.2 billion, inbred seeds at P375 million, fertilizers at P4.4 billion, farm equipment at P1 billion , training at P998.2 million, irrigation at P745.9 million, research and development at P658.7 million, and other interventions at P375 million.

Dar said the DA will also strongly promote rice varieties preferred by consumers to provide farmers higher incomes.

The Agriculture department, he said will intensify the promotion of climate resiliency programs among rice farmers to reduce crop losses during typhoons.

“This is where the AMIA (Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative on Agriculture) will come into play. We will be piloting more AMIA villages in the regions, provinces, and towns to enable local communities to manage climate risks while pursuing sustainable livelihood vision climate-resilient agriculture,” Dar said.

AMIA is the flagship program of DA for climate change adaptation and mitigation.—AOL, GMA News