By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The total palay procurement of National Food Authority (NFA) amounted to 5.4 million bags during the first half of the year, which is also the tailend of the summer harvest.
NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal said that just before the traditional lean months begin, the state-run grains agency was still able to bag 626,100 bags of palay for the month of June alone.
This brings the total palay procured during the first half of the year to 5.4 million bags, which is 16 percent higher than NFA’s 4.64 million target.
“It is very favorable because the agency is now preparing for the lean months, from July to early September, and for calamities that may hit the country during the rainy season,” Dansal said.
“The Rice Liberalization Law still mandates us to ensure at least 15 to 30 days of buffer stock and since the agency cannot already source its stock through rice importation, it is fortunate that our agency is performing well in procuring palay from our own farmers and that we were able to meet our mandated level of buffer stock,” she added.
As part of the preparation of NFA for the lean season, Dansal already instructed NFA field offices with palay stocks to start their milling operations.
Right now, NFA still continues to distribute NFA rice at P27.00 per kilogram (/kg) through accredited market retailers. This is in compliance with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to continue making it available for poor and low-income consumers.
The word on the street, however, is that NFA is already running out of stocks that could be sold at an affordable price for P27.00/kg, and may soon stop selling the variety.
With higher production cost, locally produced rice are more expensive than the imported rice. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said earlier that the imported rice procured by NFA last year will only last until September.
“We have to efficiently manage our stocks properly, both to ensure our financial stability, and to see to it that by the time the main crop harvest starts in September until December, we will be ready again to serve our clients. We must be able to sustain our procurement operations with sufficient logistics, especially warehouse spaces to store the stocks that we will be continuously procuring from our farmers,” Dansal said.
Once the NFA runs out of imported stocks, it will be forced to sell rice to other government agencies like Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government units (LGUs) at slightly higher rice.
With the passage of Rice Liberalization Law or RA 11203, NFA was left with the sole responsibility of making sure that there’s rice available when calamities and disasters hit the country.
The law also bans NFA from importing cheaper rice, forcing the state-run grains agency to beef its procurement of locally produced unhusked rice.