Senator Nancy Binay called on the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Food Authority (NFA), and the National Food Authority Council to settle their differences and come up with a plan to augment the dwindling supply of NFA rice.
“Pakiusap ko sana mag-usap sina Secretary (Manny) Piñol, ‘yung NFA Council, pati na din ‘yung pamunuan ng NFA na upuan niyo talaga (ang isyung ito) at mag-usap (kayo),” Binay stated.
“‘Yung isa sinasabi na kailangang mag-import, ‘yung isa naniniwala na walang need. At the end of the day, walang NFA rice tayong nabibili. Unahin muna natin ang pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan bago ang internal issues among the different agencies,” the legislator added.
The lawmaker said she does not dispute Piñol’s claim that there is “a huge inventory of locally harvested rice.” However, she argued that the rice varieties available in the market are more expensive than NFA rice.
“Daing tuloy ng karamihan, buti pa ang presyo ng bigas nagmamahal habang ‘yung bulsa ng taumbayan ang nasasaktan,” the lady senator said.
The NFA sells rice between P27 and P32 per kilo, which is lower than commercial prices of P45 to P60 per kilo.
Binay cited how the Grains Retailers Confederation (Grecon) in North Cotabato is already complaining of limited stocks of NFA rice.
“Ang mga rice retailers sa Mindanao walang mahanap na NFA rice. Kahit ang Google sumuko na sa pag-si-search,” she noted.
According to Grecon Cotabato President Carmelito Bacus, each accredited NFA rice retailer is only given five sacks of NFA rice monthly.
According to reports, the NFA only had 65,200 metric tons of NFA rice, which would only last for two days. The agency is required to have a 15-day buffer stock at any given time.
“Ang concern ko bakit tayo umabot sa punto na halos wala nang nabibiling NFA rice? Artificial lang ba ito? May nag-ho-hoard ba? Sino ang nakikinabang dito?” Binay asked.
She said that she understands the DA’s position to look for alternative means to address the lack of supply of NFA rice. “Kung hindi puwede mag-import, hanapan ng alternatibong paraan, ‘wag nang marami pang dahilan at iwasan ang turuan.”
Binay also appealed to commercial traders to not take advantage of the situation and instead help keep rice prices stable.