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No other areas in Mindanao poised to have rice crisis



AS the government scrambles to find rice for Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi – where the prices of rice recently shot up to Php70 per kilo amid almost zero supply – an industry source assured that no other areas in Mindanao is poised to face the same problem.

The National Food Authority Council, the highest policy making body of the NFA, decided to import 132,000 metric tons of rice under the unutilized Minimum Access Volume allocation as part of the efforts to address the rice crisis in the re­gion, according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol. The Agriculture Secretary attended an “emergency meeting” with the members of the NFA Council on Wednesday regarding the rice smuggling and supply is­sues in Zambasulta.

For the longest time, Zamboanga City and the three island provinces have relied on smuggled rice from either Vietnam and Thailand brought in as transhipment via Sandakan in Sabah, Malaysia. But a few weeks ago, Malaysia closed the borders, effectively stopping rice smuggling. (Madelaine B. Miraflor)