MANILA The National Food Authority (NFA) Council has set measures to ensure sufficient and affordable rice as it allowed importation of 750,000 metric tons of rice for sale to markets nationwide at prices lower than commercial counterparts, Department of Agriculture (DA) Sec. Emmanuel PiAol said.
"We'll bring in rice that's cheap," he said Monday (Sept. 24) during his meeting with governors of provinces reeling from the onslaught of Typhoon "Ompong" (international name Mangkhut).
PiAol said the council also decided disallowing private traders' importation of fancy rice, limiting their inbound shipments instead to the kind of grain NFA is importing so there can be more of cheaper rice in markets.
"Let Filipino farmers produce fancy rice," he said.
To encourage more sale of locally grown palay to NFA and further increase availability of cheaper rice, PiAol said the council also decided to come up with incentives that will in effect raise - from PHP17 per kilogram to about PHP20 per kilogram - farm gate price the agency will pay farmers for their grain.
He said the NFA Council set the measures Monday during its meeting with officials of the agency.
He said there is no rice shortage in the country but what is lacking is rice that people can afford.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued Executive Order 62 series of 2018 returning to DA the supervision of NFA, Philippine Coconut Authority as well as Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority.
The EO also reorganized the NFA Council and designated the DA Secretary or the official's authorized representative as head of the body.
The importation that the council set will be in addition to the 500,000 MT of rice NFA already imported from Vietnam and Thailand earlier this year.
PiAol said NFA may undertake the importation through any government-sanctioned mode.
"What's important is to bring in the grain so people don't have to wait in line for their turn to buy cheap rice," he said.
NFA sells its regular- and well-milled rice at PHP27 per kg and PHP32 per kg, respectively - lower than prices of commercial counterparts, as PiAol said there is no need to raise selling prices of NFA rice.
He noted that NFA's purpose is not to compete with the private sector but to help stabilize rice price nationwide. The availability of NFA rice in markets provides consumers a lower-priced option, helping deter surges in commercial rice cost.
The ban on private importation of fancy rice with five percent broken grains commenced Monday after NFA Council decided on this matter, PiAol said.
He said the council reached the decision as the imports' market entry is jacking up prices of local fancy varieties. Prices of the local fancy varieties are trying to approximate those of the imports which sell between PHP55 per kg to PHP58 per kg, he noted.
Local traders can ship into the country ordinary rice at 25 percent broken and sell the grain at PHP38 per kg to PHP40 per kg only, he said. NFA imports rice at 25 percent and 15 percent broken.
Earlier, PiAol urged farmers' and irrigators' groups to sell respective palay to NFA so these can receive equipment or machinery for respective farms. He noted points each group earns from the sale determine what it will receive.
Tractors and shallow tube wells are among what the groups can receive, he said. Participants of the meeting came up with inputs for the master plan that would guide rehabilitation of areas that "Ompong" ravaged.
Citing latest available data, PiAol said damage of "Ompong" to agriculture already reached nearly PHP27 billion. He noted such damage is Philippine agriculture's highest since Typhoon "Yolanda" (international name Haiyan) struck central Philippines in 2013. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency