The National Food Authority (NFA) on Wednesday assured the public that no substandard rice from Thailand entered the country as part of the government-to-government rice procurement deal last year.
To recall, Manila has imported about 500,000 metric tons (MT) of rice in September 2014. Some 300,000 MT tons of the supply were awarded to Thailand and the remaining 200,000 MT tons to Vietnam.
The Philippines got the imported rice in three tranches – 200,000 MT (40 percent) on October 15, another 200,000 MT (40 percent) on November 15, and 100,000 (20 percent) on December 15.
During the period, the Thai government discovered in a rice audit that over 90 percent of their rice stocks in state-run warehouses were substandard for commercial sale and were deemed “inedible.”
This greatly alarmed international buyers.
NFA Administrator Renan Dalisay, however, said that the public need not worry about the quality of imported rice from Thailand, stressing that they have implemented strict quality measures to prevent entry of spoiled grains.
“The reports came out during our last importation. In fact, we were immediately informed by our embassy about the matter so we were able to implement quality control,” Dalisay said.
“During our assessment of the Thai rice shipments arriving in our warehouses, we discovered a few sacks of substandard grains, which were shipped back to the suppliers,” he added.
The NFA chief also said that the Thai Embassy in Manila has assured them that all rice shipments were newly harvested and safe for human consumption.
In a related development, the NFA will have to resort to more rice importation this year to boost buffer stocks in government-owned warehouses ahead of the lean season.
The government is eyeing importation as a more viable option to meet the mandated 30-day buffer stock during the lean months since the NFA could not compete with the traders in buying locally grown palay.
To meet the country’s daily rice consumption of 34,000 MT, the NFA will have to import about 500,000 metric tons before June.
Dalisay, however, said that the NFA Council is still finalizing the terms of reference for the rice procurement, including the volume and ideal arrival period.
“By next week, we will have a final decision,” he said.
At present, the government’s buffer stocks are enough to meet the nationwide daily requirement for the next 13 days.