Duterte looking for new NFA chief as Jason Aquino has asked to be relieved
Updated @ 11:39 p.m., Sept. 11, 2018
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday announced he was in search for a new administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA), the agency at the heart of the ongoing controversy on rice supply, after NFA Administrator Jason Aquino wanted out of the agency.
“Jason Aquino has requested to be relieved already,” Mr. Duterte said in a televised tête-à-tête with the presidential legal counsel, Salvador Panelo.
“He is tired,” Mr. Duterte added, referring to the former rebel military officer.
The President made the revelation just hours after the NFA issued a statement quoting Aquino as saying the agency had sufficient funds to buy palay from local farmers this cropping season.
The statement quoted Aquino as instructing NFA officials “to be more aggressive in their palay-buying strategies” and reactivate NFA mobile procurement teams.
“Do not wait for farmers to bring their produce, but rather, go out to the farthest and remotest barangays to buy their harvest,” the statement said, quoting Aquino.
It said Aquino had ordered NFA employees to buy palay in areas “where prices offered by private traders are below the government price.”
The NFA currently buys palay from local farmers for P17 per kilogram. Private traders buy at P20 or more per kg.
“We have simplified some of the requirements and the procurement process to encourage farmers to sell to the agency,” the statement said.
As of Aug. 31, NFA has bought 3,955 metric tons of palay from local sources. The volume was just 3 percent of the NFA’s procurement target for 2018.
If NFA failed to buy enough palay from local sources to augment its stocks, it may resort to importation as it had done extensively in the past.
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