THE rice supply of the National Food Authority (NFA) got a much needed shot in the arm, as some 10,000 bags of regular milled rice, which will be sold at P39 per kilo in Metro Manila, were delivered to the capital 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 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, including imports, after the NFA said its buffer was running short.
Del Rosario said this was the 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.
“Ang aming commitment kay pangulo na napagusapan ay nandito na po sa Manila. Yun P39 na ibebenta ng mga retailer. Ngayon po kami po ay nagpapasalamat ngayong umaga na ito ay blessing sa atin ng Panginoon natin na binigyan tayo ng grasya na dumating para itulong ng Nueva Ecija Rice Millers sa Metro Manila para magkaroon po tayo ng P39 na presyo,” Amelito Coronel, President of the Nueva Ecija Rice Millers Association, told media on Monday.
[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.]
Coronel said each truck contained 500 sacks or 50 kilos of rice “which will be spread out in Metro Manila to help our fellow citizens.”
Several pilot service outlets have started selling the low-priced commercial rice in Quezon City markets. Other service outlets in Quezon City will open in Commonwealth, 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.
The traders, Coronel said, were committed to continue their “Tulong sa Bayan” by supplying “regular milled rice” (RMR) to consumers in Metro Manila until the NFA rice would become available.
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.
The NFA said the undertaking was a joint project of the Office of the President, the Confederation of Grains Retailers Associations of the Philippines, Inc. (GRECON), the Philippine Confederation of Grains Associations (Philcongrains), and the NFA.
GRECON national president James Magbanua said the rice traders may limit sale of rice to 3 kilograms per customer to stretch supplies so that it may serve as many consumers as possible.
The 250,000 metric tons of rice, which the government has imported from Vietnam and Thailand to serve as buffer stock, were 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.
A buffer stock is rice being 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, while 30 days is being allotted for lean months.
The UN World Food Programme estimates that in countries where rice is a staple food, like the Philippines, a person consumes an average of 400 grams of rice per day.
For a family of six, about 2.4 kilograms of rice is needed for their daily consumption. FRANCIS EARL CUETO, EIREENE JAIREE GOMEZ