NFA rice buffer stock falls short of safe level, report shows
MANILA -The National Food Authority’s (NFA) rice stockpile is good for only two days, falling short of the minimum inventory requirement to help the Philippines ride through emergencies or calamities, according to the agency.
In a report, the NFA said its buffer stock as of end-June this year stood at 1.22 million bags or 60,819.95 metric tons (MT), good for just two days based on daily rice consumption rate of 679, 670 bags or 33,983.5 MT. A safe buffer stock based on daily consumption should last nine days, according to an official.
But based on the agency’s average daily sales of 26,085 bags, its inventory is good for 47 days, an NFA report showed.
The report also emphasized that NFA’s stock is only part of the national rice inventory. The rest is held by households and the commercial sector.
NFA’s June inventory was significantly lower than the 3.14 million bags or 157,154.85 MT, equivalent to 4.68 days, recorded in the same period last year.
For last year, the food agency noted that the daily rice consumption rate was 671,720 bags or 33,586 MT.
With the declining buffer stock, the Marcos administration is set to decide this week whether to import rice through a government-to-government (G2G) arrangement, according to Agriculture Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez.
Striking a G2G deal with India was among the options the government was exploring to stabilize domestic supply and soften prices at the retail level, he said in an interview on Monday.
Among the factors that would be taken into consideration include the impact of the recent weather disturbances on the local industry, the volume of rice to be imported and price spikes in the global market.
He also said the “private sector can import anytime [although the prices will be higher].”Based on the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), the President can authorize importation at a lower tariff rate in the event of “any imminent or forecasted shortage, or such other situation requiring government intervention.”
The President may only do so when Congress is not in session.
The NFA’s mandate under the law is limited to maintaining a sufficient rice buffer stock for emergency situations and sustaining the disaster relief programs of the government during natural or man-made calamities. NFA can only source supplies from local farmers.
The RTL, on the other hand, liberalized the trading of rice when it allowed unlimited importation of rice.
As of Monday, locally produced rice costs P37 to P60 per kilogram, higher than the P38 to P50 per kg prevailing prices last year, according to the Department of Agriculture’s price monitoring.
Imported rice ranges from P44 to P58 per kg, compared to P38 to P52 per kg previously. Imported regular milled rice is not available in public markets. INQ