NFA needs rice imports for food security buffer stock
The National Food Authority (NFA) urgently needs to replenish its rice inventory through a government-negotiated importation to ensure that the agency can effectively respond to the needs of emergency or calamity victims in the coming lean months.
NFA administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino said the agency has to immediately import the balance of 250,000 metric tons out of the 500,000 MT rice imports approved for 2016. The whole volume should arrive in the country within April to allow the NFA to preposition the stocks, especially in calamity-prone areas, across the country.
“We live in a country of many islands, where transferring highly volatile commodities such as rice is dependent on the weather situation, availability of vessels, other logistics and manpower, and even timing. We cannot afford to procrastinate when our people’s most basic food is at stake. Thus, we want to ensure that the NFA has enough stocks before the dreaded lean period comes,” Aquino said.
Aquino stressed that at this point, the only way NFA can fill the deficit in its rice buffer stock requirement is through importation. “Any further delay in getting the 250,000 MT into our government warehouses may lead to disastrous consequences,” Aquino said.
“Our farmers are currently harvesting their summer crop but the NFA cannot compete with the private traders who are buying higher than the government support price of Php 17/kilogram, even with additional incentives amounting to Php 0.70-Php 1.00/kg,” Aquino said. NFA price monitoring shows that traders in most areas across the country are buying palay at Php 18-P20/kg.
Aquino explained that the NFA also needs to beef up its stock inventory to prevent any nefarious business activities such as price manipulation, hoarding and price speculation as the agency is also mandated to stabilize the price and supply of rice.
“Although we have enough procurement funds to buy local harvest, our farmers would be better off selling to private traders at higher prices. Thus, we cannot possibly build up our mandated 30-day food security buffer stock before the lean months via local procurement alone,” Aquino said.
The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) has prescribed that the NFA, as food security watchdog of government, should maintain a rice buffer stock good to last for 15 days at any given time and for 30 days at the onset of the lean months from July to September, based on the daily consumption requirement of 32,150 MT or 643,000 bags. (PNA)