December 8, 2022

Creative Commons

Rice farmers in Zamboanga Sibugay were not optimistic of the coming harvest season as the  farmgate price of palay or unhusked rice plunged to season low at P15 a kilo.
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At P15 per kilo, the farmers could hardly make both ends meet, said Miladel Capitania, the municipal agriculturist of Kabasalan town in Zamboanga Sibugay. (Creative Commons)

IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay

Rice farmers in Zamboanga Sibugay were not optimistic of the coming harvest season as the  farmgate price of palay or unhusked rice plunged to season low at P15 a kilo.

“Bad. Things are going bad,” rice farmer Renato Gaviola, in dialect, said.

The farmgate price of unhusked rice is P15 a kilo and it might go down to P10 when harvest time comes, the 46-year-old farmer wryly said.

At P15 per kilo, the farmers could hardly make both ends meet, said Miladel Capitania, the municipal agriculturist of Kabasalan town in Zamboanga Sibugay.

The production cost per hectare of irrigated rice farm from land preparation to harvesting, according to Capitania, is P45,000. For hybrid rice, the cost is P55,000 to P60,000 due to higher cost of farm inputs.

“The average yield for each hectare for inbred rice is 5 metric tons,” she said. With the present buying price at P15 per kilo, a farmer may have a net surplus of P30,000 after four months of waiting.

That is if nothing untoward event happens like calamity, she added.

As the harvest season nears, the prospect is bleak for the rice farmers.

Arandy Silva, an executive assistant to the mayor in Imelda town, said the farmgate price could plunge to P12 and P10 per kilo.

“It is possible especially that harvesting usually happens during rainy season,” Silva, in an interview, said.

The price drop could further diminish the surplus a rice farmer expects. And the picture is even bleaker for rainfed rice farms.

A non-irrigated rice farm would only yield 1.5 metric ton per hectare, leaving each farmer with almost nothing at the end of the cropping season, she lamented.

It could adversely affect thousands of families in the province who depend on rice farming, Capitania said.

Over 25,000 hectares of Zamboanga Sibugay’s land area of 360,775 hectares were planted to rice.

Data from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG) show that some 9,613 hectares of rice farms were irrigated.

The province is the second largest rice producer in Zamboanga Peninsula, next to Zamboanga del Sur.

“There is nothing much to look forward to this harvest season,” Gaviola, a father of four, said.It is sheer luck if something will be left for his family after the harvest, he said. (Antonio Manaytay)

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