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Farmers transplant rice seedlings in Mamasapano, one of the rice-producing towns in Maguindanao. (Mindanews File)

Bimp-Eaga states offer cheaper rice exports to Mindanao

NEIGHBORING countries have expressed interest to export rice to Mindanao to push down the cost of the staple amid the reported shortages in the previous months, Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) executive director Romeo Montenegro said in Davao City on Wednesday.

Montenegro said  member states of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (Bimp-Eaga) have told business players and Minda they were ready to provide additional supply at a cheaper price to counter the rising inflation rate.

In Mindanao, the inflation rate in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao rose to nine percent in September, the highest among six regions in Mindanao and the second highest in the country, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Region 12 recorded the second highest inflation rate in Mindanao (8.2 percent) followed by Region 11 (7.9 percent), Region 9 (7.7 percent), Region 10 (6.9 percent), and Region 13 (6.1 percent).

Minda chair Abul Khayr Alonto said they were realigning their schedules with officials from the Department of Trade and Industry, to meet officials from Sulawesi in Indonesia for a possible rice importation and come up with measures to eliminate smuggling.

This developed after President Duterte announced he would saturate the local markets with rice to bring down the prices of the staple without compromising the local farmers.

“Our neighbors in Bimp-Eaga upon learning about the rice situation in Philippines and Mindanao months ago have explored ways by which they are able to supply rice but it’s worth noting, however, all of these have to be reckoned with the existing national policies we have in terms of rice importation,” Montenegro said.

He said the volume has yet to be threshed out since the rice exporters from these areas have yet to negotiate with the National Food Authority and Department of Agriculture.

“There’s no specific in terms of volume although what they offer is they can provide alternative source of rice that can be viably priced for Mindanao, considering the proximity,” he added.

Bimp-Eaga covers the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, West Pappua and Papua in Indonesia; states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and Mindanao and the province of Palawan in the Philippines. (Antonio Colina IV of Mindanews)

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