Palay harvest in the Visayas and Mindanao has started earlier than usual, providing an opportunity for the government to beef up its rice inventory in the aftermath of successive storms that resulted in extensive crop damage.
Regional managers of the National Food Authority (NFA) have already been ordered to step up their procurement of vital crops, said Orlan A. Calayag, NFA administrator.
“(We want) to capture a sizeable portion … for the country’s food security stocks,” Calayag explained.
He added that farmers in Western and Eastern Visayas as well as Western and Southern Mindanao and Cagayan have started harvesting palay as early as mid-August.
Calayag said in a statement that the early harvest would serve to boost the country’s rice stock. The bulk of the harvest from Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Ilocandia and Cagayan Valley are expected during the usual harvest months of September to November.
“The NFA stock alone is recorded at 604,762 metric tons, or 12,095,234 bags, as of Aug. 13,” the NFA chief said.
Last week, the NFA said prices and supplies of rice in areas affected by floods remained stable as the NFA distributed some 7,900 bags of rice to victims of tropical storm “Maring.”
The bulk of the NFA’s emergency rice stock went to Metro Manila and Central Luzon, parts of which had been submerged for several days.
The agency said 3,605 bags were allocated to the National Capital Region while 2,578 bags went to Region 3.
The rest of the rice went to Laguna in Southern Tagalog, the Cordillera Administrative Region and Ilocandia.
“The NFA also continues to hold sufficient buffer stock of rice for market stabilization and to effectively address any emergency rice requirements,” the agency added.
Latest data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics showed that the country’s rice stock as of July 1 stood at 2.19 million metric tons (MT)—good for 65 days.