Negros Occ. to become ‘net exporter’ of rice

Negros Occidental aimed to be a “net exporter” of rice amid the provincial government’s efforts to increase its production and sufficiency level, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said yesterday.

The governor made the statement as he assured Negrenses that the province has enough rice supply amid continuing concerns on decreasing stocks.

“There is nothing to worry about,” Marañon said, adding that damage and losses brought by pests and calamities would not hurt local production much.

Negros Occidental is known as the nation’s sugar capital, producing 60 percent of the Philippines’ sugar output.

However, in recent years, it has also become one of the top rice-producing provinces.

Marañon said the provincial government continued to work so that Negros Occidental would eventually become a “net exporter”, or export more rice than it imports.

To date, the province was exporting “first-class rice”, he said, citing a Negrense farmer who supplied Japanese rice to restaurants in Metro Manila, and also other farmers who sold organic rice to other places.

The governor said that initiatives to boost rice production and sufficiency level include provision of more irrigation and other support services.

He added that more Negrense farmers had been converting their sugar plantations into rice farms.

Some local farmers already produced seven metric tons per hectare, higher than the national average yield of 4.2 metric tons per hectare, he said.

“Time will come that we will no longer import. We are getting there,” the governor added.

The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist is still consolidating data on the province’s total rice production and sufficiency level last year.

In 2016, Negros Occidental’s rice self-sufficiency level was pegged at 97 percent.* (Erwin Nicavera)