NFA rice stocks in Jolo nears depletion
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has raised an alarm over the depleting stocks of National Food Authority (NFA) rice in Jolo, which is now only good for five days.
Sulu is among the three island provinces, along with the City of Zamboanga, that has been relying on smuggled rice to supply the needs of its residents. Jolo is the capital of Sulu.
When the smuggling routes were closed after the private visit of President Rody Duterte to Malaysia last month where he met with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, Sulu, along with Tawitawi, Basilan and Zamboanga City, suddenly ran out of rice supply.
“People of this town, known as the lair of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf, lined up in front of the National Food Authority Offices here at break of dawn yesterday to be able to buy five kilos of government subsidized rice sold at only P27 per kilo,” Piñol said.
Piñol said that Sulu’s problem is that it has virtually zero rice production, which he believes was caused by the dependence of the area on smuggled rice.
As a response, Piñol said he directed Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) National Director Eduardo Gongona to coordinate with Philippine Navy officials for the use of a naval vessel to bring in additional 20,000 bags of rice from Zamboanga City to Jolo.
The DA will also consolidate commercial rice stocks now available in the mainland to be shipped to Jolo to beef up the supply of NFA rice in the province.