By Joseph B.A. Marzan
An official of the Department of Agriculture-Western Visayas (DA-WV) assured the public on Tuesday that the region remains “rice self-sufficient” amid increases in prices of the staple grain due to continued high demand.
DA-WV OIC Regional Technical Director for Operations Dominador Marquez told media that they have resolved that the increase in prices not just of rice but other food items as well was inevitable.
Marquez implied that the hike may have something to do with the current lull in harvest, citing the end of the last harvest season in February.
“Our regional management committee meeting is ongoing, and one of the issues we have been discussing is that we cannot veer away from the increase of prices of rice in later time because we are being dictated by the law of supply and demand,” Marquez said on the sidelines of an event launch by DA-WV on Tuesday.
“We are approaching the tigkiriwi portion of our [year]. It’s already April and the last harvest season ended in February. We cannot avoid it. It may be just 2 to 3 pesos [per kilo] here [in Region 6], but in Metro Manila, it would be around 5 pesos,” he added.
Marquez pointed out that the region’s outlook in other agricultural products remains bright, citing data from the Food Sufficiency Index released in end-2022.
He added that the agency continues its efforts in vegetable production, the only sector with deficits in the region’s food sufficiency scale, including eggplants, bitter gourd (ampalaya), squash (calabasa), and string beans (sitao), among others.
They recently turned over ₱7.4 million worth of assistance to vegetable farmers in Iloilo province for the construction of greenhouses in production areas.
“Our supplies of livestock also have no problems. Our egg supply, we are self-sufficient [there]. The only deficit is with vegetables, where we are short of 53 percent deficit, especially for pakbet and chopsuey,” he added.
The official encouraged the public, especially those in urban and peri-urban (those immediately surrounding urban areas) to plant vegetables in their own residential gardens.
Marquez said they will be starting an urban gardening effort in Iloilo City to address current deficiencies in vegetables.
The DA-WV’s FSI data as of December 2022 indicated that rice production in the region was at 120 percent, while that of young corn is only at 39 percent, lowland vegetables at 53 percent, and upland vegetables at 10 percent.
Common lowland vegetables include ampalaya, okra, patola (luffa gourd), hot peppers, squash upo (bottle gourd), eggplants, and sitao, while upland vegetables include labanos (radish), sayote, cabbages, cucumber, chicharo, Chinese cabbage, green ice lettuce, and potatoes.
Other agricultural products also remain self-sufficient, including whole corn (183 percent), bananas (294 percent), chicken (177 percent), chicken egg (128 percent), pork (287 percent), and beef (167 percent).
The regional office likewise confirmed to Daily Guardian that their data remains unchanged as of this writing.