By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Although the government has assured that there will be no rice shortage, the National Food Authority (NFA) will start to “rationalize” its buffer stock and has told the local government units (LGUs) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to directly buy from farmers for their COVID-19 relief efforts.
In a statement, the state-run grains agency said it has already started prepositioning its rice buffer stocks across the country, especially in calamity-vulnerable areas and island provinces.
As part of this, NFA also began calibrating its rice releases to LGUs and relief agencies to focus on rice dispersal operations and “ensure that buffer stocks are safely and promptly delivered where they will be most needed during the lean months.”
It’s only about a month from now before the onset of the traditional lean months of July to September, but the Department of Agriculture (DA) has repeatedly assured that the country will have enough supply of rice throughout the year, which should be backed by higher palay production and contin¬ues rice importation.
NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal said the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases has already allowed NFA to “rationalize” its rice releases for food pack distribution to families under quarantine due to the COVID- 19 pandemic.
Dansal said LGUs and DSWD may source their rice requirements for relief operations directly from farm¬ers, farmer cooperatives, or commercial rice traders.
“We have to move our inventories from surplus to deficit areas while the current good weather still allows us to transfer stocks between regions and ship to island provinces that are vulnerable to isolation during the rainy season,” NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal said.
Under a liberalized regime, NFA’s sole mandate has been reduced to buffer stocking for calamities and emergencies.