The Department of Agriculture (DA) has inaugurated two new National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses in the country’s top rice-producing province, Nueva Ecija.
Such a development, according to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, will support the government’s efforts to bring the Philippines’ rice sufficiency level up to 95 percent, as well as accommodate the additional one million metric tons (MT) of palay the country is targeting to produce for this year.
Each warehouse, which was inaugurated on Wednesday, has a capacity to store 100,000 sacks, and is expected to help intensify NFA’s palay procurement and buffer stocking.
The Muñoz warehouse covers the Science City of Muñoz, San Jose City, Talavera, Lupao, and Caranglan, while the Cabanatuan warehouse covers Cabanatuan City, Sta. Rosa, Palayan City, Zaragoza, Peñaranda, and Laur.
NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal said that with this new storage facility, NFA will have an additional rice depot to serve rice farmers in the province, and buy their produce at a fair government price.
“These warehouses can now serve the farmers this coming harvest season starting August and September. Hopefully, we will be able to procure more so that we will be having more buffer stock available for the residents of Region 3,” NFA Regional Director Elvira Obaña said.
Dansal added that additional 18 warehouses strategically located nationwide have been funded in 2020 and 2021.
Through the Rice Tariffication Law, NFA now serves as a buffer stocking agency, mandated to maintain and sustain the level of rice supply that can be tapped during natural calamities and other unforeseen events.
Dar, for his part, said the inauguration of the new warehouses is important and historic for NFA as it starts to modernize with a line-up of infrastructure development projects that will contribute to the competitiveness of the local rice industry.
“In the future, after the consolidation of farms, we will provide more post-harvest facilities such as farm machineries to realize our vision of modernizing the country’s rice industry in the country,” the agri chief said.
“We will use every possible means, including modern technologies and innovations, so that collectively our farmers can be globally competitive,” he added.
The other week, Business Bulletin learned that NFA is currently behind its palay procurement target for the year, but Dansal said she is not worried about this since the overall demand for state-subsidized rice has been declining.
For this year, NFA is targeting to buy 19.85 million bags of palay, but the agency had so far purchased only 6.11 million bags from January to July. This is only 31 percent of that target.
NFA currently sells its stocks to local government units (LGUS) and partner agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic hits the country, the agency had to step up its palay procurements so that it has enough stocks to distribute to LGUs and other government agencies, which all had to intensify their respective food relief efforts.