Tougher oversight on NFA rice stocks sought

Tougher oversight on NFA rice stocks sought

/ 05:45 AM March 11, 2024

PHOTO: Workers stack rice at a warehouse of National Food Authority. STORY: Tougher oversight on NFA rice stocks sought

FOR TRADERS ONLY? | Workers stack rice at a warehouse of the National Food Authority. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. on Sunday called for stricter congressional oversight on the National Food Authority’s (NFA) P9-billion rice buffer stocking program following the preventive suspension of 139 of the agency’s officials over the irregular sale of 75,000 sacks of rice to private traders.

In a statement, Campos, vice chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, maintained that there should be tougher congressional protection over the NFA’s program of amassing rice stocks.


“Congress must take strong action to safeguard the buffer stocking program, which is meant to keep an optimal level of rice reserves at all times for use during emergencies while providing strong buying support to local farmers,” Campos pointed out.


“We are counting on the Congressional oversight committee on agricultural and fisheries modernization to conduct inquiries and draw up recommendations to promote greater transparency and accountability in the buffer stocking operations,” he added.

According to the lawmaker, P9 billion was set aside for the NFA’s buffer stocking program in the 2024 national budget on top of the P9 billion allocated in 2023.

The people’s dime

Campos also said that another P5 billion was included in the NFA’s 2024 budget “for the construction, repair and rehabilitation of NFA warehouses” to boost its buffer stocking program.

He explained that the funds set aside in this year’s General Appropriations Act for the buffer stocking program were part of measures by President Marcos, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr., and Speaker Martin Romualdez to “ensure that the buffer stocking program’s supplies are used responsibly.”

READ: House inquiry raises more issues in NFA rice sale

The buffer stocking program maintains an inventory of rice sourced from local farmers that may be released in times of calamities, fortuitous events, or shortfalls in production.


The program authorizes the sale of rice to agencies such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, among others.


The NFA is mandated to have at any given time rice buffer stocks good for nine days of consumption, constituting 6.6 million bags of grain, to ensure there is readily available supply in times of calamity and emergency.

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On Thursday last week, the House Committee on Agriculture and Food initiated a motu proprio inquiry on the sale, without public auction and the approval of the NFA council, of 75,000 bags of rice to two private traders. Each bag contains 50 kilograms of rice, which was reportedly sold at P25 per kilogram to private firms.

TAGS: anomalous NFA rice sale, Luis Campos Jr., National Food Authority

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