Negros Oriental is sufficient in food production and its surplus in vegetable produce is being exported to neighboring areas.

Provincial Agriculture officer Greg Paltinca yesterday said the provincial government ensures that it can produce and provide sufficient, safe and nutritious food items for its constituents, even at times of calamities and disasters.

He said the province had reached its 100 percent level of food sufficiency in 2009, and from 2010 until today, maintained a surplus sufficiency level. Excess vegetables are being sold to Negros Occidental, Cebu, Bohol and Zamboanga del Norte, Paltinca said.

In 2000, he said Negros Oriental, had a food sufficiency rate pegged at 25 percent, and it steadily climbed to 45 percent in 2004, and 75 percent in 2007.

On rice production, the province’s sufficiency level is at 40 percent, from the past years average of 60 percent, due to calamities, such as the massive flooding in Bayawan City and Sta. Catalina late last year that destroyed vast rice fields. Maize production has a 70 percent sufficiency level last year. Paltinca said 56 percent of the more than 1.2 million population of Negros Oriental are rice eaters, and 44 percent prefer corn as their main staple.

Production sufficiency of crops is affected by climatic conditions, especially when disaster strikes, Paltinca said. Yet the province can still address the food security requirements of its people even during disasters, as production is more than enough to feed them, not to mention other alternate staples like camote (sweet potatoes) and cassava, he added.

He cautioned the people against letting their guards down, adding there is need to adopt mitigating measures to cushion the impact of disasters.*JFP