NFA rice: Only 2 days’ supply left
The National Food Authority (NFA) has only two day’s worth of milled rice as the agency awaited clearance to import, NFA spokesperson Rebecca Olarte said on Tuesday.
The agency’s buffer stock of about 64,000 metric tons at the end of January was its lowest monthly holding in 10 years, Olarte told the Inquirer in an interview.
The NFA was required to maintain a buffer stock of at least 15 days’ worth of consumption at any given time. During the lean months of July to September, when the year’s main or wet-season crop is being grown, the NFA’s supply should be good for at least 30 days.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the NFA’s starting stock in February was about the same as the September 2017 volume of 65,540 tons. The lowest recorded monthly volume was 203,000 tons in February 2005.
“While the NFA has received a ‘standby authority’ to import up to 250,000 tons of milled rice, we have not received word to proceed with importation,” Olarte said.
Olarte, who heads the NFA’s public affairs department, said the situation had prompted the agency to recalibrate the distribution of its stock.
“The NFA sees no assured (inflow) of new stocks, that is why we have set the order of priority for the distribution of NFA rice,” Olarte said.
Saving for a rainy day
She said NFA’s stock of 100,000 50-kilogram bags, or 5,000 tons, in the National Capital Region was being saved for distribution during calamities, such as in the aftermath of a devastating typhoon.
“With the calibration of distribution, stocks are being saved mainly for such emergencies,” she said.
Following the order of priority, the current NFA stock would be made available to “highly depressed” areas and island provinces—where supplies are unstable—and only to accredited retailers, she said.
Henry Cariño, NFA acting operations officer for Zamboanga del Sur, said the agency had stopped releasing its buffer stock in the province, which had gone down to 2,300 50-kg sacks.
NFA and grains retailers, however, said there was no shortage of rice and corn, which was the preferred staple locally, and there had been no significant changes in the price of commercial rice.
Cariño said on Monday the three NFA warehouses in the province had smaller stocks now compared to the months of 2017. —With a report form Leah Agonoy
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