NFA to deliver 250,000 MT of imported rice to boost gov’t stockpile

Published March 22, 2018, 6:49 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Genalyn Kabiling
At least 250,000 metric tons of imported rice would delivered to the country this May to boost the government stockpile, a Palace official announced Thursday.
Enough Supply — A worker of the National Food Authority (NFA) piles up sacks of rice in one of the food agency’s warehouses in Port Area, Cebu City. The NFA assured that a stock of 600,000 sacks of rice is sufficient to supply the demand in Central Visayas during the summer season. (Juan Carlo De Vela|Manila Bulletin)
(Credits: Juan Carlo De Vela|Manila Bulletin)
The arrival of the fresh stocks came after National Food Authority (NFA) Council authorized the importation of rice through an open tender scheme with the private sector.
The rice importation was among the agreements reached during a meeting convened by the President Duterte with the NFA Council, other food agency officials, and economic mangers in Malacañang last Monday.
“Even with a very sufficient supply of rice for the entire country to date, the NFA Management is directed to start the procurement process of the approved standby authority to import 250,000 metric tons to increase the currently NFA rice inventory or buffer stock,” Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. said in a statement read by his Assistant Secretary Jonas Soriano in a Palace press briefing.
“The said rice import is set to arrive May of this year. This is to allow the NFA to have enough buffer stock for the upcoming lean months of the year, in which rice harvest is at its lowest,” said Evasco, head of the NFA Council.
Evasco said the mode of procurement of the 250,000 metric tons would be government-to-private Importation or open tender scheme. The terms of reference will be the same as in the previous government-to-private Procurement last year, he added.
“We would like to assure the public that the NFA Council is keen on ensuring continued supply of affordable rice for Filipino people while working hand in hand with other departments to ensure that the interest of the Filipino farmers and their families as part of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s commitment for a better Philippines and a comfortable life for the Filipinos,” he said.
In the same Palace meeting, Evasco said the NFA Council has tasked the NFA management to work with the Department of Trade and Industry to identify and tag rice imports under the Minimum Access Volume to ensure its affordability to the consumers.
“It was also agreed that DTI shall step up and intensify price monitoring to ensure unwarranted increases and or price manipulation in rice prices,” he said.
The NFA Council has also directed the NFA management to increase domestic buying of palay especially during the early days of the harvest months, according to Evasco.
The NFA should carry out “creative strategies in the form incentives or sweeteners” for farmers to sell their products to the agency, Evasco said. “The main thrust is to buy locally first prior to considering importation.  We protect our farmers first,” he added.
He said the NFA must also aggressively implement measures to reduce the production cost of rice such as mechanization, investment that will increase yield of rice, among others.
The Council also called for amendments to Republic Act No. 8178, otherwise known as the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996 to protect rice farmers from the lifting of qualitative restrictions on rice imports.
“The bill seeks to prescribe tariff rates for rice importation, strengthen the rice sector to meet the head on challenges of import threats and keep the Philippine food secure and provide funds to be allocated to the rice sector based on a rice industry roadmap,” Evasco said.