Agriculture not worried by banana farm expansions

RICE PRODUCTION NOT IN PERIL

By ROGER M. BALANZA

The Department of Agriculture is not alarmed by banana farm expansions gobbling up rice farms.

Undersecretary Jesus Emmanuel Paras said in Davao City last week the conversions of rice lands into banana plantations barely affected the overall rice production areas of 1.5 million irrigated rice lands.

Paras said during the Food Summit for Mindanao that only about 10,000 has of rice lands have been converted to bananas farms, and prevalent only in Davao del Norte where banana is the major crop.

Cavendish bananas for export is the region’s main export, bringing in annual revenues of $400 million.

Nevertheless, Paras said Secretary Arthur Yap has issued a directive to the National Irrigation Administration not to issue clearance for conversion of rice lands to banana plantations.

Paras said the country is sufficient in rice supply despite the conversions, and is capable of responding with 9 million metric tons to the annual consumption demand of 11 million metric tons that limits imports to only 1.6 million metric tons.

Paras however admitted climate change could take its toll on rice production of other rice-producing countries which would be forced to restrict exports due to low production if not jack up export prices.

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