State of calamity declared in Zamboanga City due to rice shortage

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ZAMBOANGA CITY — Zamboanga City has been put under a state of calamity due to a rice shortage, local authorities announced Monday. 

This comes after prices shot up to 70 pesos per kilogram in the villages of Manalipa and Pamucutan, based on the City Agriculture Office report. 

The National Food Authority's (NFA) retail prices for rice range from 23 to 32 pesos per kilogram for locally produced stocks and 25 to 32 pesos per kilo for imported rice.  

Last week, 40,000 bags of rice were shipped to the city from the NFA but were not sufficient to meet the needs of nearly a million consumers. 

Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco cited the fire in Sulu and the shutdown of the Malaysian border as factors that led to the rice shortage. 

The blaze in Jolo, Sulu in July prompted agencies to apportion jasmine rice grown in the area to affected residents before it was delivered to Zamboanga, Climaco said. The Malaysian border on the other hand, served as a route for rice trade. 

The state of calamity declaration will allow the local government to control prices of rice and to purchase buffer stocks using calamity funds. The stocks will be sold exclusively to local markets, the mayor said.

Stringer Marlon Panares contributed to this report.