NFA says more rice imports required
The National Food Authority said Monday it needs to secure an additional stockpile of rice, most likely imports, in preparation for the calamity-prone lean months of July to September.
“At present, the NFA needs an additional 490,800 metric tons or 9.8 million bags of rice to meet the mandated volumes for food security,” said NFA administrator Jason Laureano Aquino.
“Much as we would want this additional stock to come from local produce, we cannot compete with the private traders who are offering prices much higher than the government’s P17/kilogram support price,” added Aquino.
NFA’s field monitoring shows traders are buying palay from the dry season harvest at an average of P18-P20/kg across the country.
The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council has required the NFA, as the food security watchdog of government, to maintain a rice buffer stock good to last for 15 days at any given time and for 30 days at the onset of the lean months, based on the daily consumption requirement of 32,150 MT or 643,000 bags.
Aquino said the only way NFA could fill the deficit in the rice buffer stock requirement was through importation.
“It’s always better safe than sorry especially when dealing with our people’s basic staple. If the government does not possess the right volume of stocks when the lean months come, who would provide for the needs of calamity victims? Surely not the private businessmen who will never transact business at a loss,” said Aquino.
The NFA initially is seeking approval from the NFA Council for the immediate government-to-government importation of the balance of 250,000 metric tons out of The whole volume should ideally arrive in the Philippines within April to allow the NFA to pre-position the stocks, especially in calamity-prone areas across the country.
“The additional government rice imports will not be released into the market to compete with commercial stocks. These are intended mainly for buffer stocking so that we will have a ready supply to be released to victims of calamities. This is the difference between our stockpile and those imported by the private sector which they sell at a profit,” Aquino said.
When typhoon Yolanda battered Tacloban and the rest of Region 8, it was NFA that mainly supplied the rice requirements for victims in the area.
“Our country is composed of many islands and most of these islands are prone to natural calamities. In Batanes, for example, NFA supplies 80 percent of the people’s rice requirement,” Aquino said.
Other Philippine islands prone to calamities where NFA maintains rice buffer stock include Camiguin, Catanduanes, Marinduque, Romblon, Polillio, Siquijor, Guimaras, Palanan in Isabela, Bantayan and Sta. Fe in Cebu, and Camotes Island.