Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Zamboanga City Launches Programs To Sustain Rice Supply

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Zamboanga City has began demonstrations on farming upland rice in different villages in an effort to help sustain the supply of grains here
City Agriculturist Diosdado Palacat recently bared the various programs that his office has embarked to steady the rice situation in the city.

He said they are now conducting demonstrations on farming upland rice, a variety that can withstand high temperature with minimal demand for water, especially in the villages of Balinsungay and Mercedes.

Similar demonstrations were also conducted in other areas where water is scarce like Curuan, Buenavista, and Ayala villages.

He said some irrigation canals are plagued with debris and weeds that thwart the free flow of water to the rice fields. To impede further infestation of such weeds, several city agriculturist personnel have been deployed to numerous areas to help with the cleanup of the waterways.

Palacat is optimistic that water can more generously flood the fields now that most debris that obstructs the waterways has been removed. Another issue that besieges farmers and might be contributory to the rice crisis, Palacat said, is the loss incurred in post-harvest facilities.

In the city, 15% or 150 in every thousand sacks of palay is lost in such facilities. “We are monitoring and orienting our farmers on how to handle the palay to reduce the rate of loss,” he said.

He said his office is also campaigning for the planting of white corn as a substitute to rice. Corn, he said, is rich in protein and sugar. “In the past, only about 14-15% of Zamboangueños eat rice. Now, 90% of the population is rice-eaters. This also contributes to the present rice crisis,” Palacat said.

Palacat maintained that there is no rice shortage in the city. More than enough sacks of rice are housed in many warehouses around the city, particularly the National Food Authority, to provide for the requirements of the population.

Rice production in the city can only account for 30% of the demand for rice. However, the city is able to import rice from nearby areas such as Zamboanga Sibugay to fill up the 70% deficit. (Claudine Uniana)

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