Bongbong Marcos: Gov’t to increase rice buffer stock
ZAMBOANGA CITY — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said the government is targeting a bigger buffer stock of rice in the country to ensure a sufficient supply of the staple food at a lower price.
Speaking on Tuesday to beneficiaries of the rice distribution to indigent families at the warehouse of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Barangay San Roque here, the President said expanding the buffer stock will help ensure that consumers will not suffer the sudden spikes in the price of rice.
“We will increase the buffer stock so that we will no longer see the sudden spikes in prices,” the President explained in Filipino.
But Marcos has not spoken of any numbers. The country’s estimated daily rice consumption is around 34,000 metric tons.
Rising prices of the staple food are not only a problem in the country but also throughout the Asian region as other countries beef up their buffer stock in anticipation of a drop in harvests due to the expected onslaught of the El Niño phenomenon, the President further said.
“All the countries in Asia are trying to ensure that they have sufficient reserves (of rice), they have a buffer stock (and) that’s why they are racing to buy, which induces a rise in the price,” Marcos explained.
He stressed that this phenomenon of rising cost necessitated the imposition of a price cap on rice, a policy that has drawn strong opposition from traders who had bought their supplies at higher costs.
But the long-term solution to this problem, according to the President, is increasing local rice production.
Achieving such a goal must lead to “first, ensuring that the price is affordable to the people, and second, that the farmers will have a good livelihood (out of palay farming),” Marcos said.
“That is what we are trying to fix. We don’t want to be in a situation when the Filipinos go hungry because there is no sufficient supply of rice,” he added.
Marcos had ordered the distribution of some 5,000 bags from among a haul of seized smuggled premium rice to beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program: 3,000 in Zamboanga City, 1,000 in Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay, and 1,000 in Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte.
The President stressed that smuggled rice has no place in the domestic market.
When asked Marcos if there is a chance to reduce the price of rice to P20 per kilo, he explained that “when production (cost) of rice goes down, bababa din ang presyo ng bigas.”
“Pag naging normal na ang sitwasyon, malaking pag-asa na bababa ang presyo ng bigas,” he added.