DA-7: ‘Bigas ng Masa’ not yet feasible in CV
An official of the Department of Agriculture in Central Visayas (DA-7) believes that there may yet be no need to deploy “Bigas ng Masa TienDA” mobile trucks to poor neighborhoods in the region, to offer a cheaper rice alternative to consumers just like in Metro Manila.
According to Gerry Avila, chief of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) of DA-7, despite the absence of National Food Authority (NFA) rice in the market, there is enough supply of commercial rice whose prices have remained stable in the region.
“Based on our assessment, so far, we have an adequate supply of rice. The prices of ordinary-milled rice and well-milled rice are also stable,” Avila told Cebu Daily News.
Earlier, DA-7 was directed by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to assess the rice situation in the region amid plans to set up regional outlets of “Bigas ng Masa TienDA” to address the NFA rice shortage.
“We’ll be helping our farmers sell their rice directly to consumers without the need for any trader or middleman as go-between. This is also to help our fellow Filipinos who cannot afford the expensive rice in the market that is now at P40 to P50 per kilo,” Piñol told a House hearing last week.
“We received a communication from Manila asking for our assessment, recommendation, and comments on Bigas ng Masa,” Avila said.
According to Avila, while the program offers cheaper rice directly acquired from farmers, it is not yet vital as a counterpart solution to the absence of NFA rice.
“As of this time, it might not be feasible. Quiet pa ang market, which means kaya pa sa mamalitay mopalit at that price (The market is quiet, which means that consumers can still afford to buy at that price),” he said.
“We recommend that as of this time it might not be possible na mamaligya mi sa (for us to sell) region og Bigas ng Masa,” said Avila adding that the recommendation has yet to be approved by DA-7 Director Salvador Diputado before it is submitted to Piñol.
Avila assured that there was no need to worry about the supply of commercial rice in Central Visayas because of the coming harvest season in April and May.
As of February 22, the NFA-7 recorded at least 128, 000 bags of rice as buffer stock in the region which could last only four days and way below the 15-day requirement.
NFA’s 250, 000 metric tons (MT) rice importation is expected to arrive in June.
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