If we want to keep rice prices low and make Christmas merry for the country’s 100 million-plus population, the National Food Authority (NFA) must continue to step up its rice procurement efforts to ensure there is a ready supply of cheap rice during the holiday season.
These were the sentiments of House Appropriations Chair Rep. Karlo “Ang Probinsyano” Nograles, who on Sunday warned that supplies of NFA rice may not be enough to stabilize rice prices even with more rice stocks expected to be imported before the end of 2018.
“The last thing we want is for our kababayans to experience hardships during the holidays. But if we do not find a way to keep rice prices from going up, we have to ensure that we have adequate stocks of NFA rice,” said Nograles.
According to the Davao solon, the NFA informed him that it has a total rice inventory of 2,151,611 bags as of September 25.
Nograles explained that if the NFA continues to distribute 128,000 bags per day to significantly impact prices and keep them low, the current stocks would last roughly 17 days, or just until October 12.
“Now, there is an additional 158,684.54 metric tons (MT) of NFA rice that still needs to be unloaded. This is equivalent to 3,173,690 bags, and is good for another 25 days. So that means the stock will last from October 13 to November 6 only,” he added.
This, said Nograles, makes it imperative for the 250,000 MT of imported rice—previously approved by the NFA Council—to arrive in the country by November.
“But the timely arrival of these stocks can be influenced by factors beyond our control. What if the weather, simba ko (God forbid), delays deliveries?”
“This is around five million bags of rice, and this will be sufficient for only 39 days. So the stock will only last from November 6 up to December 15,” said Nograles.
“But the timely arrival of these stocks can be influenced by factors beyond our control. What if the weather, simba ko (God forbid), delays deliveries? Now we are in a situation wherein by November and December, the NFA will not be in a position to keep rice prices low,” warned the legislator from Mindanao.
“This is a big problem. If rice prices spike in December, our people will have to spend more for rice, and will have less for their Noche Buena. That is not the Christmas we want for our countrymen, especially ang mga masisipag na probinsyano.”
The solution, Nograles said, “is something I have said time and time again. The NFA Council must call for an emergency meeting and approve the emergency procurement of palay from our local farmers at the cost of P22. This will allow them to boost their existing stocks before the present stock of rice starts to run out.” Buying the palay at that price, said Nograles, is fair and just.
“The last thing we want is for our kababayans to experience hardships during the holidays.”
“Not only would it allow us to have enough rice stocks to give consumers a Merry Christmas, it will also ensure that Filipino farmers have a happy new year.”