NFA rice imports start arriving
Provinces in Luzon and Mindanao can expect the government’s subsidized rice varieties to be back in the markets within this week as the first tranche of rice imports have already arrived in the country.
According to National Food Authority (NFA) spokesperson Rex Estoperez, 16,000 metric tons (MT) of rice were unloaded in the ports of Subic and Surigao during the weekend.
The presence of two NFA rice varieties in the market, priced at P27 and P32 a kilo, respectively, is expected to lower the prices of the staple. Since January, retail prices have not stopped increasing following the tightness in the supply from the government’s grains agency.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed average retail prices for regular-milled and well-milled rice climbed by 7.08 percent and 5.22 percent, respectively, to P43.93 and P40.23 per kg from a year ago levels.
Estoperez said the initial shipments of rice imports would be distributed in provinces surrounding Subic and Surigao. Meanwhile, rice shipments for Metro Manila, estimated at 1.5 million bags, is expected to arrive in the succeeding tranches.
While the agency has assured consumers that its priority was to stabilize the supply and prices of rice in the market before it replenishes its stocks, Estoperez said a portion of the shipment would be set aside for NFA’s inventory.
Part of the agency’s mandate is to maintain 15 days’ worth of rice supply at any given time, but this has yet to be fulfilled by the agency.
The National Food Authority (NFA) Council approved last February the importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice to replenish the NFA buffer stock that was used in part to help stabilize rice prices.
The rice importation will come mainly from Vietnam and Thailand.
To ensure that the importation process would be “more inclusive and transparent,” the mode of importation was “government to private importation or open tender procurement.”
NFA management earlier asked that it be allowed to use its standby authority to import 250,000 metric tons of rice as its buffer stock of rice was down to only 64,000 metric tons, or good for only two days.
The government had insisted that the country had no rice shortage as 3.8 million metrics ton of rice or equivalent to 121 days of rice supply were available.
The NFA council also discussed raising the NFA’s buying price of P17 a kilo for clean and dry palay but the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, The Neda Board and the Department of Finance objected as this would be inflationary, or cause prices of basic commodities to increase.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.