NFA 7 assures adequate rice supply for C. Visayas
There’s sufficient rice supply in Cebu and the rest of Central Visayas, assured Nestor Alcoseba, National Food Authority (NFA) 7 Cebu provincial manager.
While Cebu is not a major rice producer, it serves as a hub for imported rice, said Alcoseba in a forum yesterday.
NFA and commercial rice stocks in the province would be enough to meet demand in Cebu City and the province.
According to the NFA-7 report, Cebu consumes 20,100 bags or 1,005 tons of rice per day while the rice demand for Central Visayas region is 1,882 tons or 37,640 (50 kilo) bags per day.
“We are sufficient in rice not only in NFA stocks but also commercial rice. We target being self-sufficient by next year,” said Alcoseba.
NFA imports large volumes of rice to meet demand in Cebu. Its activities focus on improving distribution and dispersal of rice products.
Under the NFA’s Palay Procurement Program the agency buys grains and palay from local producers.
“We buy clean and dry palay for 70 pesos per sack,” he said.
“This is not a big activity because Cebu is not a production area. If we compute the production and consumption in Cebu, our operations would show a defict but all kinds of rice enter Cebu. In any market you vist, there is so much rice,” Alcoseba said.
Bohol province is the strongest grower and the most self-sufficient in rice production in the region and Siquijor is the weakest.
Based on the NFA’s report, for this year alone the agency is importing 28,000 metric tons or 560,000 bags of rice from Vietnam.
Majority of the stocks go to Cebu.
Alcoseba encouraged local government units to enter and sign a Memorandum of Agreement with NFA to be given rice on credit during times of calamity.
“If there is a MOA, you can go to NFA immediately. We could release 1,000 bags of rice per year for the LGUs,” he said.
Cebu province is one of the remaining LGUs which renewed its MOA with the agency so that the province is ready in case of disasters.
Alcoseba said NFA will write to LGUs inviting them to join the program or renew their agreements.
Meanwhile, iron-fortified rice promoted by the NFA is healthier but not many buy it because of the darker color of the grains.
Under Republic Act 8976 or the Food Fortification Act of the Philippines, three basic commodities of flour, cooking oil and rice should be fortified with iron for health benefits.
“The implementation of this law is slow because the industry is not yet ready. There is also difficulty in public acceptability of fortified rice because of the discoloration of the grains. But NFA will continue to advocate this,” he said.
NFA Rolling Stores are no longer pushed by the government.
He said the operation is costly and unnecessary because there’s a lot of rice supply already in the market.
Meanwhile, Edgar Diez from the Enforcement Investigation Office of NFA Region 7 reminded parties engaging in rice retail and whole sale business to always apply for an NFA license.
“There are many who venture into the rice business without an NFA license from the NFA, which is not good. It’s easy to secure a license,” he said.
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