TO ensure stable prices and supply in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, state-run National Food Authority (NFA) is sending 500,000 bags of rice to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Tomas Escarez, NFA officer-in-charge, said the rice shipment is intended to beef up food security stocks in the region, especially in areas affected by the ongoing military offensive against the bandit group Abu Sayyaf.
The government wants to make sure that there are sufficient stocks to avert any price surges brought about by the intensified military operations in Southern Mindanao, Escarez said.
Of the total, some 300,000 bags (50 kilos each) will be shipped directly to Maguindanao while 200,000 bags will be shipped via Zamboanga City, which will distribute the grains to BASULTA (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi).
Some 23,200 bags allocated for Maguindanao have been delivered to government-owned warehouses.
Another 30,000 bags for BASULTA arrived in undisclosed destinations and are ready for distribution by relief agencies, the NFA said.
Aside from the humanitarian aspect, the rice shipments will also help augment rice stocks in El Niño-stricken areas, Escarez said.
NFA-ARMM has released earlier this year a total of 34,731 bags to families affected by the weather phenomenon that has affected many parts of the country, particularly provinces in Mindanao.
As of August 24, the NFA’s rice inventory is enough for 21 days but is below the 30-day requirement during the lean harvest season from July to September.