MANILA The government might have enough stock of affordable rice for the public by May or June if the National Food Authority (NFA) starts to import rice now, a Cabinet official said on Thursday.
Assistant Secretary Jonas Soriano, spokesperson of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., who heads the NFA's policy-making body, the NFA Council, said the NFA may now start importing rice to augment its dwindling rice stocks.
"NFA management can do so already," Soriano said.
The NFA has been authorized to import 250,000 metric tons of rice this year. Soriano said the NFA could start importing rice the way it did last year, which was the Government to Private (G2P) mode.
Soriano said the G2P mode aims to help avoid irregularities associated with rice importation.
The NFA can actually import rice through two modes G2P and Government to Government (G2G).
The G2P requires public bidding and compliance with the Government Procurement Reform Act. Qualified parties anywhere in the world can participate in the bidding.
But under G2G, the NFA can transact directly with governments of other countries.
Importing rice will raise the NFA's rice inventory anew, enabling the agency to again make the staple available to the public at lower cost.
Regular milled NFA rice costs PHP27 per kilogram, while well-milled NFA rice costs PHP32 per kilogram, much lower than commercial rice in the market, which runs at least more than PHP40 per kilo.
Created in 1972 as National Grains Authority, the NFA is the government agency tasked with providing an adequate supply of affordable rice and corn while ensuring reasonable return rates for Filipino farmers.
The agency said it must maintain 15 days' and 30 days' rice buffer stocks at any given time and during the July-September lean season to ensure availability of lower-cost rice nationwide.
Dwindling NFA stocks had prompted the agency to recalibrate its distribution of rice, prioritizing as recipients government units involved in relief operations.
Source: Philippine News Agency