Monday, February 27, 2017

Tawi-Tawi from Rice Importer to Exporter

Rice being the staple food of the Filipinos has always been a crucial issue not only for the economy but also for politics. It was said that no Filipino leader must touch the issue of rice since it may lead to their downfall.

It is ironic that Philippines being an agricultural country is a net importer of rice. There has never been an instance that the Philippines exported rice with the exception of the year 1977. And not in substantial amounts at that.

Tawi-Tawi Province is at the southernmost tip of the Philippines and is geographically closer to Malaysia than to Manila. 

It is currently relying on imported and even smuggled rice for its sustenance since it is cheaper than locally produced rice which is ironic.

In fact, Tawi-Tawi has less than 200 hectares that is planted to rice and that tells the true story of food supply.

In this regard, Governor Rashidin Matba of Tawi-Tawi has vowed to expand and develop 6,000 hectares of new rice farmlands so as to help the province’s rice industry. This aims to attain self-sufficiency in rice as per the government target of 3 years.

The province has a population of  100,000 and the new farmlands will meet the demand for the staple.  

 “The low price resulted in the province relying mainly on smuggled rice instead of developing its rice industry,”  Department of Agriculture (DA) Secertary Piñol said.

The smuggled rice comes from Vietnam and is then coursed through Malaysia and then finds it way to the markets of the province, Sulu, Basilan and Zamboanga. 

“Tawi-Tawi hopes to reverse its fortune, from a net importer of smuggled rice to an exporter of high quality rice to neighboring Malaysia,” Piñol disclosed.

To complement this, the DA will come in with production enhancers such as seeds, fertilizers, and mechanical equipment, as well as storage facilities and a rice-processing center.

New solar powered irrigation systems will also be introduced to keep farm input costs down to make the price of locally produced rice cheaper.

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The Mail Man

Author & Editor - The Philippines' Web Magazine on Agriculture.

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