THE rice supply got a much-needed boost as some 10,000 bags of regular milled rice, to be sold at P39 per kilo, were delivered to Metro Manila by traders on Monday.
A total of 17 cargo trucks of grain, each with 400 to 800 bags of rice from Nueva Ecija province, were delivered to the National Food Authority (NFA) warehouse in Quezon City.
Victor del Rosario, president of the Nueva Ecija Rice Millers Association, said areas that were running low on supply of government-subsidized rice would be prioritized for delivery.
The government is moving to ensure enough supply of affordable rice after the NFA said its buffer was running short. The traders will continue to supply rice until grains to be imported by the NFA to ease the shortage becomes available.
Del Rosario said this was the Nueva Ecija Rice Millers’ Associations’ promise to President Rodrigo Duterte – for them to lead the selling of cheap commercial rice to prove that they were the new rice granary of the country.
“Our commitment to our President has arrived here in Metro Manila. Retailers will sell this for P39 a kilo. We thank God today for the blessing he has given the Nueva Ecija Rice Millers Associations that paved the way for us to provide Metro Manila with rice to sell at P39 per kilo,” Amelito Coronel, president of the Nueva Ecija Rice Millers Association, told reporters in Filipino.
Several pilot service outlets have started selling the low-priced commercial rice in Quezon City markets. Outlets will also open at Commonwealth Avenue, Litex, Silangan, Payatas and Tondo Talipapa.
All other markets in Metro Manila will sell the same variety and at the same price starting on April 18.
Aside from Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Isabela were also committed to deliver 100,000 sacks of rice each for a total of 300,000 sacks.
Grains Retailers Associations of the Philippines, Inc. president James Magbanua said rice traders might limit sale of rice to 3 kilograms per customer to stretch supplies.
The NFA’s importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam and Thailand is expected to arrive in May through the ports in Cebu, Davao and Manila.
“The NFA is finalizing the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the immediate importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice approved by President Duterte to bring back the P27 and P32 a kilo NFA rice into the markets nationwide,” the grains agency said.
Buffer stock of rice is kept in the NFA warehouse to ensure ample supply and to make sure that there will be no spike in prices.
The NFA is mandated to have a buffer stock of 15 days during regular months, and 30 days during lean months.
Also on Monday, a lawmaker urged President Duterte to donate the confiscated 1,395 metric tons of rice off the coast of Zamboanga Sibugay to the NFA.
Rep. Orestes Salon of Agri party-list made the call after Naval Task Force 61 of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao seized a foreign cargo vessel loaded with 27,180 sacks or of rice or 1,359 metric tons of rice from Vietnam.
with EIREENE JAIREE GOMEZ AND LLANESCA T. PANTI