By Bobby Q. Labalan
SORSOGON CITY, Mar. 7 (PNA) — The Bicol region placed 6th among rice-producing regions in the country, accounting for 6.74 percent of the entire rice production for 2013 equivalent to 1,243,241 metric tons (MT) , records released by the Department of Agriculture (DA) show.
Central Luzon, the country’s so-called rice granary, remained the top rice-producing region with 3,409,468 metric tons, accounting for 18.49 per cent of the entire rice yield last year; followed by Cagayan Valley with 2,423,187 metric tons (13.14%), Central Visayas — 2,090,790 MT (11.34%) and Ilocos Region with 1,750,057 MT (9.49%), according to the DA data.
Among provinces, the top ten producers were Nueva Ecija with 1,672,666 MT; followed by Isabela with 1,249,873 MT and Pangasinan with 1,065,036 MT; Iloilo-822,452 MT; Cagayan — 829,737 MT; Camarines Sur — 601,479 MT; Tarlac — 585,077 MT; North Cotabato — 525,675; Leyte –502,746 and Negros Occidental — 477,969 MT.
Meanwhile, two provinces in Bicol region registered a negative growth in rice production last year despite the interventions introduced by the government. Catanduanes had -5.36% growth, from 10,924 MT in 2012 down to 10,339 MT in 2013, while Sorsogon registered -3.30% from 36,217 MT to 35,021 MT last year.
Masbate registered the highest production growth at 10.80 percent from 51,807 MT to 57,401 MT; followed by Camarines Norte from 23,521 MT to 25,369 MT, up by 7.86 percent; Camarines Sur from 156,312 to 159,105 for a 1.79-percent increase and Albay with 55,494 MT in 2012, up by 0.85 percent to 55,964 MT.
Based on these productions, DA regional director Abelardo Bragas said only two Bicol provinces are rice-sufficient: Camarines Sur, which is 166.34 percent rice sufficient, and Masbate, which is 105.42 percent rice sufficient.
Albay is only 93.36 percent sufficient; Camarines Norte, 92.73 percent; Sorsogon, 88.84 percent and Catanduanes, 62.07 percent.
As a whole, Bicol region is 118.19 percent rice-sufficient.
Bragas said the government, through the agriculture department, is intensifying its rice program through the provision of various farm equipment and inputs geared towards increased rice production under the Agri-Pinoy program.
Recently, the agriculture department distributed rice threshers and tractors to various farmers’ organizations and cooperatives here in the province through the initiative of Congresswoman Evie Escudero.
“We are always ready to provide not just equipment but technical assistance as well so that our farmers would be able to increase their production, which hopefully, would also increase their economic sufficiency,” Bragas added.
Agri-Pinoy Rice Program is one of the banner components of the Department of Agriculture mainly concerned in rice farming and uplifting the lives of Filipino farmers.
Guided by the principles of the Agrikulturang Pilipino (Agri-Pinoy) framework, the National Rice Program integrates government initiatives and interventions for the agriculture sector, namely: food security and self-sufficiency, sustainable resource management, support services from farm to table, and broad-based local partnerships.(PNA)