Despite dwindling stock, NFA to distribute rice to calamity areas

By Jessa Mae O. Sotto, Morexette B. Erram |February 16,2018 - 10:57 PM

A National Food Authority (NFA) personnel checks supply of NFA rice in a warehouse at the pier area in this CDN file photo. Despite the dwindling supply of the government subsidized staple, the NFA will still allow rice distribution in calamity-hit areas. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

About two weeks since it stopped distributing rice to retailers, the National Food Authority in Central Visayas (NFA-7) has decided to distribute NFA rice to areas affected by Typhoon Basyang.

NFA-7 Information Officer Olma Marie Bayno said they have accepted the request of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) for at least 2,500 bags of rice for its rehabilitation program.

“Our rice as of this time is reserved for emergency and calamity purposes and the PSWDO is doing this function,” she said.

The PSWDO, Bayno said, had requested for NFA rice last Tuesday, which it could withdraw starting next week at 500 sacks per day for its relief operations.

As of Feb. 14, the NFA only has 133,000 bags of rice, good for only four days and way below the 15-day buffer stock requirement of 415, 285 sacks.

NFA-7 had stopped distributing NFA rice to its 1,991 accredited retailers in the region, citing a thin inventory due to the scarcity of harvest for the year.

NFA-7 Regional Director Procopio Trabajo II said in a previous interview, that they have requested the NFA Council for 350,000 Metric Tons (MT) of rice importation for the country, of which only 250,000 MT was approved.

Last Monday, NFA Council Chairman Leoncio Evasco told reporters that they have approved the rice importation expected to arrive by the first week of June.

Meanwhile, the Cebu Provincial Government has already purchased around 300 sacks of commercial rice as buffer stock for the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) in the event that the NFA rice they borrowed from the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) and the Office of the Vice Governor runs out.

Provincial General Services Office (PGSO) head, Jone Sepe, told CDN over the phone yesterday, that they expect the rice to be delivered in the next three days.

“We agreed to purchase commercial rice on a weekly basis only until NFA will give us a go-signal to order from them again,” Sepe said.

The CPDRC in Barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City, which houses 3,691 inmates, has fully consumed their stock of NFA rice last February 9. Sepe added that the jail administration has resorted to borrowing rice from the PSWDO and the Office of the Vice Governor.

“Ang gihulman nato nga rice gikan sa PSWDO og sa Office of the Vice Governor, ato ra tong ilisan inig balik sa regular nga supply sa NFA. (The rice we borrowed from the PSWDO and the Office of the Vice Governor, will only be replaced once the regular supply of NFA rice returns),” he explained.

On the other hand, the Capitol is still not permitted by NFA to purchase rice despite news that the importation of the government-subsidized staple was already approved.

“Our check is ready but the coordinator from NFA-7 told us that they are still prohibited from distributing rice except for relief purposes,” said Sepe.

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