Prices fall, but rice imports hit
Prices of commercial rice in Nueva Ecija province have started to fall due to rice imported by the National Food Authority (NFA) to stabilize the market.
Nueva Ecija has been allocated 90,000 bags of rice from Thailand, which are now being delivered to the NFA warehouses in Cabanatuan City.
As of Thursday, commercial rice, which used to sell for P47 a kilogram, was selling for P42 a kg, according to NFA provincial manager, Genoveva Villar.
But like people lining up for cheap rice, accredited NFA retailers have been enduring long lines to get their allocations.
Melvin de Guzman, an NFA retailer, said vendors had to exert the effort because they did not see how prices of commercial rice could go down to P38-P39 a kg in the coming days.
“Traders are buying the fresh harvest at P22 to P23 a kg,” he said.
“When milled, the grain is sold for P44 a kg in the market,” he added.
Retailers, he said, wanted to get the NFA allocation, which they could sell for P32 per kg for a profit of P2.
Not a solution
But a network of farmers and scientists in Mindanao expressed concern over the decision of the Department of Agriculture to import rice and other agriculture products to solve crisis and ease supply shortage.
Leo XL Fuentes, Mindanao regional coordinator of the group Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura said this “band-aid” solution would only increase the country’s dependence on imports and threaten the country’s food security in the long run.
“If this government is sincere, it should instead adopt a more comprehensive food security plan,” Fuentes said.
“It must immediately legislate genuine agrarian reform and distribute land to the tillers and put a moratorium on land and crop conversion,” he said.
But President Duterte made light of the crisis on Thursday when he said it was the drug addicts on rehab who were now eating the staple.
The President, speaking before new career executives, said his war on drugs saw the surrender of hundreds of thousands of drug addicts who had become so thin.
Mr. Duterte said they were thin because they were not eating and tended to grind their teeth as a result of taking “shabu” (crystal meth).
“Now that many have been rehabilitated, we have a rice crisis because the fools are eating again,” he said.
“Maybe the next time there is a crisis, you distribute shabu so the others can eat and we can save rice for the others, especially the innocent and good ones,” he said in jest. —REPORTS FROM MART SAMBALUD, ANSELMO ROQUE, ARMAND GALANG AND CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO
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