Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol has assured that there is enough rice supply for the next eight months.
Quoting National Food Authority (NFA) acting administrator Tomas Escarez, Piñol said in a social media post on December 25, 2018 that the country has an inventory of 750,000 metric tons of imported rice, which is good for eight months at 10% market participation.
This is on top of the P7 billion worth of palay (unhusked rice) that the NFA will procure from local farmers.
“There will be no repeat of this year's (2018) mistake when the National Food Authority (NFA) rice stocks sold at P27 per kilo in the market were depleted because of delayed importation resulting in speculation which sent rice prices soaring,” Piñol wrote.
The NFA Council approved the importation of rice before the end of the year on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, who stepped in when prices of commercial rice soared after the market ran out of NFA rice.
By the time imported rice shipments arrived, the price of well-milled commercial rice such as Ganador had soared past the P60-per-kilo level.
With the imported rice now in NFA warehouses, Piñol said the NFA Council has implemented a Suggested Retail Price program to set a cap on the prices of rice.
The imported rice will be sold at P27 per kilo while the NFA still has to determine the price of the locally procured rice. The agency will buy palay from farmers at P17 per kilo plus P3.70 per kilo incentive.
The country currently produces 93% of the national rice requirements, Piñol said.
“With the implementation of the rice tariffication program, however, the local production is expected to increase to an estimated 95% of the national consumption by 2020,” he added.
By the end of 2018, the Agriculture chief said the country will have a 134-day buffer stock of rice in NFA and private warehouses as well as in household storage facilities.
“This is the highest buffer stock in recent years,” he said. (Ventures Cebu)