NFA urged to buy rice from local farmers while imports have yet to arrive

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

Rep. Ciriaco Calalang of Kabayan Party is urging the National Food Authority to buy 10 to 15 days’ worth of  commercial rice from farmers and sell these at NFA prices in the market while awaiting the Palace-approved imported rice shipment.

 

This would enable local farmers to sell their produce and not go hungry and poor while preventing local rice prices in the market from skyrocketing to the detriment of consumers, especially the poor ones.

 

The imported rice, he said, would take about 45 days or so to arrive and be distributed to the public markets. Current NFA rice inventories would run out before those imports come. Urgent and decisive action must be taken.

 

The 10 to 15 days of commercial-quality rice stocks should be enough to bridge the gap between the current limited NFA rice inventory and the arrival of the NFA-imported rice.

 

Now NFA must make sure, take steps so that the poor are the ones who will have access to these bridging rice stocks, he said.

 

Avoiding hunger affecting hundreds of thousands of Filipino families is more important than the financial health of the NFA. The NFA can charge this loss to experience and as an extraordinary expense to avert a hunger disaster.

 

I hope the Commission on Audit will understand the unusual nature of this situation and consider the fact that the welfare of the Filipino people especially the poor is paramount.

 

Meanwhile, Rep. Roger Mercado, Southern Leyte lone district and chair of the committee on constitutional amendments and deputy majority leader, is opposing future decisions of NFA to import cheaper rice from other countries to the disadvantage of local farmers.

 

He called the decision of NFA to import rice a “belated and slow move.”

 

Moving forward, the NFA should buy its NFA rice buffer stocks from Mindanao or the Visayas to augment NFA inventories in its warehouses in Mindanao and the Visayas, he stressed.

 

Two moves the NFA should make soon are: (1) raise its buying price for palay from P17 per kilo to the range of P22 to P25 per kilo and (2) increase its rice incentives to a full P1. These would immediately and directly benefit the farmers of Southern Leyte and all over the country.

 

 

To compensate for the increase in the price of rice sold to the poorest consumers, the DSWD should start implementing in March its 4Ps subsidies for rice purchases, he said.

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