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EMMA on the Rice Market System

Calamba City, Laguna
October, 2009

On September 26, 2009, tropical storm Ketsana made landfall near Baler in the Philippines' Quezon Province. It was the fourth severe weather-related incident in the same month. The federal government declared a state of calamity in several regions and requested international humanitarian assistance to deal with the effects of Ketsana. In Laguna Province, one of the most affected areas was the city of Calamba, where more than 14,000 individuals were affected by the storm.

This EMMA assessment was conducted by Oxfam, KFI, Concern, COM and RDISK. The target population for the assessment was the typhoon-affected population within the lakeshore and riverside barangays of Calamba City. Rice and fishing nets were selected as critical market systems for the assessment; this report focuses on the rice market system only.

Rice supplies in Calamba City are mostly imported (80%) and a small portion are locally produced (20%). The local farmers produced a total of about 9 MT/month before the storm. The rice supplied by the farmers is purchased by local traders or sold to the local cooperative. In addition, there are seven large-scale rice wholesalers in Calamba City who in turn sell rice to around 2000 small rice retailers, located mainly in local communities and villages.

Rice prices were stable during the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana. There were no observed shortages of rice during the crisis in local markets, and wholesalers were quickly back in business. On the other hand, suppliers and local traders felt a drop in demand after the disaster, brought about by rice distributions by relief organizations. At the community level, small retailers were most affected by the crisis, as stores were flooded, customers were displaced, and food aid distributions continued for two months. Local farmers were also affected by the disaster, as most of the farmers' nearly mature rice crops were totally destroyed by the heavy rains and the floods. Local households, especially those living in the lakeshore and riverside areas, were also affected. While food aid was available during the first few weeks of the disaster, assessments showed that the assistance was inadequate, leading to an increased reliance on negative coping strategies.

Given the market's quick rebound after the shock, it seems logical that food assistance, and rice in particular, should be delivered through local markets. This assessment recommends advocacy for closer coordination and communication between market, local government and humanitarian actors; advocacy for humanitarian and government agencies to strengthen assessment activities; the monitoring of market recovery; and cash transfers for vulnerable households, in some cases via cash for work programs.

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