MANILA — The National Food Authority (NFA) Council has approved the importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice to increase the current buffer stock, NFA Council chairman Leoncio Evasco said Monday.
”The standby authority to import 250,000 metric tons (MT) is approved and considering the timing of the harvest season, importation should arrive after said harvest (first week of system June),” Evasco said.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier instructed to proceed with the importation of the 250,000 metric tons subject to the assessment on timing and mode of procurement of the NFA council.
Evasco said that 250,000 MT of rice will be obtained by mode of government-to-private importation or open tendered procurement.
He added that importation will arrive by end of February and not later than August 2018.
As of February, Evasco said the country has 121 days of rice supply equivalent to 3.8 million MT.
Asked why there was a need to import rice instead of buying from local farmers, Evasco said the NFA council is “tied” to a low buying price set at PHP17 per kilogram.
Evasco, meanwhile, expressed hope that the prices of rice would “stabilize” as soon as the imported rice arrives.
He also advised the NFA management to be resourceful and proactive in getting the right timing to purchase rice.
This after he blamed the hike in the prices of rice to private traders “hoarding” the supply.
“Pumasok dito yung hoarding, cartel, sequestration of imported rice by some big traders thereby creating rice shortage which would propel price of rice in the market.” Evasco said.
“NFA should be proactive in looking into the situation of our warehouses owned by private traders,” he added
Evacso assured the public anew that there is no shortage of rice and that the depleting rice supply is being addressed.
“We assure the public that there is no rice shortage and this importation is only as to NFA’s buffer stock,” Evasco said.
The buffer stock, Evasco said, is designed to be kept in consideration of calamities and disasters. (PNA)