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Land conversion diminishes rice planting areas in Davao City

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By Philippines News Agency

“When I joined CAO 20 years ago, there were still rice areas in Bunawan but today, these have been transformed into housing areas,” CAO chief Jovencio Umaging said in an interview Monday.

He said the city’s rice production area supplies less than 10 percent of its requirements. Davao’s rice production in one harvest season is not even enough to feed the city’s residents for one month, he added.

Umaging said there is limited area in the city for rice production. Out of the 244,000 hectares of land in the city, 160,000 hectares are classified as good for agriculture. Of this area, only 2,000 hectares is available for rice production, and only one hectare is irrigated. Most of the agriculture areas are planted to cassava, camote (sweet potato) and banana.

He also cited the problem on water irrigation in the city’s agricultural areas. There are several areas in Paquibato District that can be potential areas for rice production, he added, but putting up an irrigation for these areas is quite expensive.

Umaging said they have already met with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) about the possibility of irrigating the almost 2,000 hectares of land that are good for rice production.

Davao City belongs to the “very critical” category when it comes to the sufficiency of its rice supply, said Edegary Boncal, provincial manager of the National Food Authority (NFA).

Boncal said the city is dependent on neighboring areas such as Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte and Region XII or the SOCCSKSARGEN region and Region XIII or the Caraga Region for its rice supplies.

Davao also relies on imported rice under the Minimum Access Volume Program of the government. Under the program, around 800,000 bags of rice from Vietnam and Thailand reached the city from January to March this year.

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