NFA pushes rice imports to stabilize prices
The National Food Authority (NFA) is urging economic managers to approve its request to import rice this year to stabilize prices of the staple.
A report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that prices of regular and well-milled rice have risen by as much as P3 a kilo in six regional centers, including Kidapawan City, Naga City and the National Capital Region.
Although the grains agency has not been able to control the prices of commercial rice, it sells the staple at more affordable prices as part of its mandate to ensure food security.
“Removing NFA rice from the market is like taking away the lower-prices brand of rice whose quality is comparable to high-priced commercial rice,” NFA Administrator Jason Aquino said.
“It is the function of the NFA to ensure that rice is always available, affordable and accessible to all, especially to the poor and low-income sector that rely on government to fulfill this social responsibility,” he added.
NFA’s presence in the local market is estimated to be only at 6 to 10 percent, but Aquino said that “with more than 100 million Filipinos at present, that means about 6 to 10 million of our population are consuming NFA rice on a regular basis.”
The policy-making body of the NFA rejected the proposal of the agency to import 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice this year as the agriculture sector continues to see a positive outlook in rice production.
The PSA reported earlier this week that the country’s palay production for the first quarter might reach 4.67 million MT as the crop’s harvest area and yield per hectare continued to improve.
With the importation, the NFA is hoping to “immediately replenish its fast-depleting buffer stock.” To date, its could meet the country’s national consumption requirement for only three days with 1.8 million bags, way below the stock requirement by its council of 15 days.
But NFA spokesperson Rebecca Olarte said consumers need not worry since the country’s total rice inventory, including those of households and commercial stocks, was placed at 2.8 million MT.
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