Rice Traders in Bohol Island

Rice traders in Bohol can now heave a collective sigh of relief.

  This after Gov. Erico Aumentado amended the executive order limiting the shipment by large-scale rice traders and millers of palay and milled rice from Bohol to only 500 sacks at 50 kilos net per shipment a week – and even lesser for medium and small traders and millers.

  Aumentado issued the amendment upon the recommendation of the Task Force Rice Accelerated Enhancement Response (Racer) that includes, among others, Provincial Agriculturist Liza Quirog and Dr. Jose Quitazol, the governor's consultant on agriculture.

  Executive Order (EO) No. 6 that he signed last April 8 had provided that the regulation "shall continue to remain in force until the supply of palay for the province shall have been stabilized or normalized as certified by the Department of Agriculture (DA)."

  Amendatory EO No. 6-A prescribed bigger allowable volumes for shipping out of the province after the buying price of palay in the province dropped to only P12 per kilo in some towns.

  The various agencies working collectively on the implementation of RACER and the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA)-Rice programs such as PAO, DA's Bohol Agricultural Promotion Center (B-APC), National Food Authority (NFA) Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) noted that the drastic cut in the buying price "is believed to be the result of the huge volume of rice that the NFA infused into the province and the expected increased volume of production this year as a result of the Racer and GMA-Rice programs as well as abundant water supply."

  The task force added that the very low buying price, if not immediately addressed, would result to losses on the part of the farmers and threatens the sustainability of the rice industry in Bohol.

  As such, the governor now allows licensed wholesale large traders and millers accredited by the NFA to ship out rice and palay from the province a maximum of 2,000 sacks at 50 kilos net weight per week.

  Medium traders and millers can now also ship out 1,000 instead of only 300 sacks while small-scale traders and millers can now ship out up to 500 sacks instead of only 100.

  The new EO also allows a maximum of 3,000 bags for shipment per week to other provinces by large wholesale rice traders and millers in case such provinces are affected by calamities, disasters or are in a state of emergency and there is a request for relief from the officials of the local government units (LGUs) in the provinces concerned.

  As in the previous EO, all shippers need to secure first a shipping clearance from the NFA before loading. But no clearance shall be issued to traders and millers who have no previous record of shipping or transporting palay or milled rice from December 2007 through January and February 2008.

  Agencies tasked to enforce the EO are the NFA for the issuance of shipping clearance and weekly volume monitoring; the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to ensure that no palay or milled rice shall be loaded on any sea vessel without such clearance; the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to assist the PPA in ensuring and verifying the allowable volume of such palay or milled rice authorized for shipment and not to clear any vessel for departure without such shipping clearance;

  The LGU concerned and the police station to monitor and ensure no loading and shipment of palay or milled rice are done without such shipping clearance; the Coastal Law Enforcement Councils (Clecs) and municipal bantay dagat teams to assist in the overall enforcement of the EO by including in their patrol sorties the surveillance of any suspicious activities on the transport of palay or milled rice along Bohol's coasts and municipal waters.

  Aumentado also called on the city and municipal mayors, the police, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), DA and the association of rice traders and rice millers to assist in the enforcement of the EO.

  Tasked to regularly monitor rice and palay prices are the DTI, DA and LGUs.

  The EO requires the named agencies to submit weekly reports to the Office of the Governor, copy furnished the Committee on Agriculture of the Provincial Board and all other concerned government offices and agencies for them to evaluate rice trading trends.