Fewer rice meals for poor as NFA supply drops in Davao provinces
DIGOS CITY—Severino Permangil was surprised when the store at the public market here, where he had been buying cheap rice from the National Food Authority (NFA), had shut down this week. He sought out other NFA rice outlets in this city only to discover that these, too, had closed.
Only one store selling NFA rice remained open in this city as of Thursday but its owner told Permangil that it would not be long before it would run out of supply.
Out of stock
Lucia Balayon, NFA manager for Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental provinces, admitted the agency was running out of stock and would no longer be able to cope with the demand.
Government data showed that the two provinces, with a combined population of 869,000, registered a poverty index of about 22 percent, the section of the population identified as regular consumers of NFA rice.
Of the 192,000 extremely poor families in the region, 42 percent live in Davao del Sur, according to the 2015 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
A housewife, who wanted to be identified only as Flor, said the lack of supply from the NFA would force her family to limit eating rice to only twice a day.
“Maybe, in the morning, we will just have sweet potato (sold at P14 a kilogram) or bananas for breakfast,” she said.
Balayon said only 300 sacks of rice remained at the NFA warehouse here as of Wednesday. “Even if we stretch the supply, it would last only until Saturday,” she said. “And we don’t have buffer stocks anymore. It is only good until supply lasts,” Balayon said.
She said the supply shortage forced the NFA to maintain only a single outlet following the closure of several stores.
She said this outlet would get 40- to 50-kg bags of NFA rice daily. Each buyer, she said, would be allotted a maximum purchase of 5 kg a day.
“There is no rice shortage in the province. It’s only the NFA warehouse that has no available supply,” she said.
Commercial rice varieties are sold for P39 to P50 a kg.
Permangil said he could only afford NFA rice, sold at P27 a kg and P12 cheaper than the lowest-priced commercial variety.
“Eating would be more expensive for us now,” he said. —ELDIE AGUIRRE
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