THE National Food Authority (NFA) has allotted P10.27 billion for the purchase of an additional 500,000 metric tons of rice imports, which will cover Manila’s requirements amid dwindling stocks at government-owned warehouses.
In a bid notice issued over the weekend, the NFA said that it would conduct an open tender on August 27 to allow foreign private entities and suppliers outside the current bilateral agreement to bid for the rice imports.
The rice stocks specified under the terms of the tender were long grain, white rice with 25 percent brokens, and well milled.
The NFA shall open five lots of 100,000 MT each with a contract price of P2.054 billion each – but bidders will be allowed to buy a minimum quantity of 50,000 MT with a bidding fee of P75,000 per lot.
The state-run grains agency also said that the rice, which can be sourced from anywhere in the world, should have been harvested from January to June 2014 and freshly milled.
“About 40 percent of the volume awarded shall be delivered not later than September 30; the next 40 percent not later than October 31; the last 20 percent not later than November 30,” the NFA said. Presidential Assistant for Food Security Francis Pangilinan, who is currently the NFA Council chairman, said earlier the additional import volume is necessary to ensure a stable supply of affordable rice.
Besides the 500,000 MT of rice to be procured on August 27, the NFA Council also approved a standby volume of 500,000 metric tons of rice as part of the agency’s preparations for the effects of calamities and to help temper the rising prices of the staple.
With the announcement, the government may bring total rice imports closer to the previous administration’s 1.8 million MT in 2009.
The NFA was compelled to hike rice import requirements as it continued with the high rate of withdrawals in government-owned warehouses, possibly depleting stocks to critical levels.
Pangilinan had directed the NFA to increase daily rice stocks to 10,000 metric tons from 6,000 metric tons to cushion the effects of an increase in retail prices. NFA sells regular milled rice for P27 per kilo, while the well-milled rice costs P32 per kilo.
Massive disbursement of government rice stocks further depleted the already thin buffer stocks in NFA warehouses.
To date, NFA holds less than 15 days worth of rice stocks nationwide, well below the 30-day requirement during the lean months.