SEN. Francis Pangilinan on Friday urged the government to expand the sale of cheap rice nationwide amid reports that over 4 million bags of imported rice are left unsold in warehouses of the National Food Authority (NFA).
Pangilinan made the call following the admission of NFA Administrator Judy Dansal during the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food on August 28 that the government imported 1.2 million metric tons (MT) of rice this year, with 290,000 MT remaining unsold.
“We are in an emergency situation; our rice farmers are suffering due to low prices of their harvest, consumers are suffering due to high prices of their food. Our government should also be in emergency mode,” Pangilinan said.
“It would be better to expand the sale of cheap rice. Get local government units or the Department of Social Welfare and Development to buy the NFA stored rice and distribute to poor families or sell at lower prices,” he said.
Once the current NFA stocks are unloaded, this will allow the government to buy local rice, the former secretary on food security said.
“This will also replenish our buffer stock with fresh stock. Once the present stocks are unloaded through massive selling, match this too with massive buying from local farmers,” Pangilinan said.
The senator also said experts should examine the condition of the rice following reports that the rice stocks are rotting
“Depending on the findings, the stock can still be re-milled,” he said.
“What NFA needs to do is massive rice selling in all possible places where the poor abound. Expand the selling of cheap rice. Make NFA rice accessible and available nationwide,” he added.