Alcala seeks strong Agri Dept link with grains retailers

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Despite the fact that the National Food Authority (NFA) is no longer under its supervision, the Department of Agriculture (DA) called for continuous dialogue with grains retailers nationwide.

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During a recently concluded congress in Iloilo City, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the grains retailers, whose stores serve as outlets for both locally grown and state-subsidized rice, play a vital link in the food supply chain—particularly in the government’s efforts to provide consumers with adequate supply of quality and affordable rice and corn.

“Kung hindi magiging maganda ang ating samahan, lahat tayo madidiskaril [If we don’t maintain good relations, all our plans will be derailed,” Alcala told about 1,500 members of the Visayas chapters of the Confederation Grains Retailers Associations of the Philippines (GRECON).

Established in 1980, GRECON is the biggest organization of grains traders in the country. It is composed of 15 regional retailers’ associations.

Alcala assured GRECON members that his office will remain open to any suggestion on how to advance the grains industry while the department continues to pour the needed investments in the Visayas region to further enhance the productivity and profitability of farmers and other industry stakeholders.

In the entire region, Western Visayas contributes the third biggest share in the total national palay harvest (next to Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley), accounting for 11.34 percent of the output in 2013.

However, unlike Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley where more than 90 percent of palay production come from irrigated areas, more than half of rice production in Western Visayas comes from rainfed areas.

“Thus, regional production is expected to significantly rise in the coming years when all irrigation projects in the region are completed, the largest of which is the upcoming P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multipurpose Project —Phase II (JRMP-II) in Calinog, Iloilo,” Alcala said.

The project, to be funded by the Korean Eximbank, will involve the upgrade of five existing irrigation systems covering 22,340 hectares and construct a new irrigation system covering 9,500 hectares of new areas. Bidding for civil works will be conducted in the last quarter of the year.

The country’s full-year palay production in 2014 is projected to reach 18.69 million metric tons, based on a forecast by the Philippine Statistics Authority. This is higher by 1.4 percent or 255,000 MT from the 18.44 million MT output in 2013.

According to the PSA, growth will be fueled by an expansion in the harvest area and yield improvement largely due to the use of high yielding varieties, judicious application of fertilizers and sufficient supply of agricultural water.

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