MANILA – The shortage of NFA rice is real and the inter-agency National Food Authority Council should be acting decisively to address the dwindling supply of NFA rice, Senator Nancy Binay said Sunday.
“Totoong may supply ng bigas sa mga palengke, pero nagkakaubusan na po ang tinitindang NFA rice [There’s supply of rice in the markets, but the NFA rice for sale is fast dwindling],” Binay said.
“Dahil sa kakulangan ng tinitindang NFA rice sa merkado, napupuwersa ang ating mga kababayan na bumili ng mahal na bigas [Because of the scarcity of NFA rice in the market, our people are forced to buy more expensive rice],” she added.
Binay cited a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing prices of regular and well-milled rice rising by one to three pesos per kilo in six regional centers including Kidapawan City, Naga City and the National Capital Region.
Although the NFA cannot control the prices of commercial rice, it sells rice at more affordable prices as part of its mandate to ensure food security.
“Kasama sa trabaho ng NFA ang siguruhin na mayroong sapat at murang bigas para sa lahat lalo na ngayong damang-dama ng ating mga kababayan ang kakulangan sa NFA rice [Part of NFA’s job is to ensure there’s enough supply of affordable rice, especially these days when our people are feeling starkly the scarcity of NFA rice],” Binay said.
Currently, NFA sells rice at P27/kg and P32/kg, while commercial rice varieties of comparable quality are sold at P36/kg to P41/kg.
Binay wanted to know why the Council chose to defer the importation of 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice despite the NFA admitting its current rice buffer stock is good for only three days.
“The Council should not rely on mere projections and instead be flexible and sensitive to the needs on the ground,” she said.
“Kamakailan lang inamin na mismo ng NFA na tatlong araw na lang ang buffer stock ng NFA rice. Ano nang nangyari sa polisiya na dapat magkaroon ng 15-day buffer stock ang ahensya [NFA itself recently admitted that its buffer stock is good only for three days. What happened to the policy of keeping a 15-day buffer]?” she said.
The NFA is required to have at least 15-day buffer stock at any given time and 30-day buffer stock during the lean season, which usually runs July until September.
Meanwhile, Binay again reiterated her call to the NFA to bare all suppliers given import permits under the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme.
“This is in the interest of transparency and to prevent issues like conflicts of interest and corruption,” she said.