The National Food Authority (NFA) on Wednesday assured Filipinos there is ample rice even if the government’s rice importation scheme for the lean months has been deferred.
In a statement, NFA Officer-in Charge Tomas Escarez said he has directed all field offices to monitor the supply and price situation in markets nationwide.
“We have more than enough stock of the good quality, low-priced NFA rice for the lean months,” Escarez noted.
As of June 15, the country has more than the 30-day buffer stock needed at the start of the lean months. Currently, the inventory is enough for 32 days.
“These stocks are now strategically prepositioned across the country, especially in calamity-vulnerable areas,” the NFA official said.
The lean season starts in July and ends in September. It is the time when the government imports rice to help stabilize retail prices.
Under the Food Staples Sufficiency Program, the country should have a 60-day inventory at any given time, and a 90-day buffer stock during lean months.
The state-run NFA alone is required by law to have at least a 15-day buffer stock in its depositories at any given time, and a 30-day buffer stock during lean months.
Escarez has instructed field offices to accredit more outlets for NFA rice so the supply may be more accessible to low-income residents anywhere in the country.
“Closer price monitoring and the opening of more rice outlets will ensure that our people will always have access to NFA rice,” Escarez said.
The country’s national rice inventory currently stands at 3.54 million metric tons (MT), to last for 110 days based on a national daily requirement of 32,560 MT. At least 1.02 million MT is with the NFA, 1.04 million MT is commercial rice, with 1.47 million MT in households.
NFA Spokesperson Angel Imperial said the grains agency has yet to receive the order on importation, particularly the mandated buffer stock by the government and use of the minimum access volume (MAV) by the private sector.
“… [T]he NFA administration has decided to let the new leadership to make the importation decision,” Imperial said, adding that the Philippines can afford to stall discussions on importation.
Talks about transferring the NFA back to the Department of Agriculture may also affect the negotiations on rice imports.
“At the… first week of July, we can expect a decision by the new leadership,” Imperial noted.
Prior to his resignation, former NFA Administrator Renan Dalisay said they have prepared all possible rice importation schemes for approval of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.