NFA supplies 80% of Zamboanga rice requirements

MANILA The rice crisis in Zamboanga has been resolved through quick response from the National Food Authority (NFA), which beefed up its food security stocks at the onset of the sudden increase in commercial rice prices, by bringing in supplies from other regions to increase its market injection from 2,000 to 4,000 bags a day or about 80 percent of the region's 5,340 bags daily rice requirement.

From the time a sudden spike in rice price was noted, starting from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (Basulta) and later Zamboanga, NFA administrator Jason Aquino had visited these areas and coordinated the replenishment of NFA rice stocks.

"It is frustrating to be blamed for a problem that you did not create, but rather is trying to resolve quietly," Aquino said.

The rice crisis in Zamboanga has been declared solved, but NFA continues to distribute its PHP27 per kilogram well-milled rice in the market even as cheaper commercial rice stocks are also flooding in.

"We do not expect to immediately lower the prices of commercial rice in the area, but with the steady presence of NFA rice, we are providing an alternative cheaper but good quality rice variant for our poor and marginalized sectors," Aquino said.

Additional NFA rice outlets, called Tagpuan Day Rice Response Delivery, were opened in Basulta and Zamboanga to make available NFA's PHP27/kg well-milled rice closer to the barangay folk.

"For the first time in many years, indigenous peoples, small farmers, fisherfolk, island dwellers, the urban poor, those living in resettlement areas � the real marginalized sectors of our society � are happy and thankful that they are now having access to good quality, low-priced NFA rice, Aquino said.

According to the NFA, history shows that it can only be effective in stabilizing the rice market if it has the right volume of buffer stocks.

It said in a statement that the NFA management laments the "propensity of some officials to pass judgment on the agency based on piecemeal reports".

"All of these present rice problems the thin NFA buffer stocks, the wrong timing of import arrivals leading to delays in discharging and infestation on board the sea vessels, the high prices of commercial rice in view of low government stocks are the result of the rejection of NFA's proposals since 2017 either to increase its palay procurement price for the agency to procure more locally, or to import at the proper time to prevent a depletion of stocks and make the agency effective and efficient in stabilizing the market, the NFA management committee said. (NFA PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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