NFA assures enough rice supply in region

By: Vanessa Claire Lucero October 21,2015 - 01:10 AM

THE public does not need to worry about any possible rice shortage or price spikes during the El Niño months, said National Food Authority (NFA) regional information officer Mary Agnes Militante.

She said there is enough supply and additional importations are being made from Vietnam and Thailand as a preventive measure.

At last count, Region 7 has a total of 1.197 million bags of rice in storage. The bulk, or over 90 percent, was imported from Thailand and Vietnam. Since the start of the year, Central Visayas has produced only some 546 bags of rice.

“Cebu is not a big producer of rice, but we have a lot of rice. There’s more than enough. Distribution is not so fast,” Militante said.

NFA-7 is expecting an additional 500,000 bags of rice in  November and another batch of 500,000 bags in  December this year. For each month of the first quarter of 2016, they have  also placed a bid for 360,000 bags.

This provides an additional supply of 104,000 metric tons of rice from November 2015 to March 2016. A metric ton (mt) is equivalent of 20 bags, each with 50 kilograms of rice.

She said they have no timetable yet as to when to expect the additional stocks.

“A lot of big vessels dock at the port, so vessels from Thailand and Vietnam cannot dock immediately,” she said. The lack of space has caused delays in vessel docking and transporting of the  rice cache to the NFA warehouse.

The Cebu port will also be receiving additional bags for Region 8: 10,000 mt in November and 10,000 mt in December. For 2016: 15,000 mt in January; 15,000 mt in February; and 10,000 mt in March.

Meanwhile, NFA recorded the highest market participation at 22 percent in September this year.

The lowest market participation was recorded in April 2015, at 19 percent of the total consumption of rice in the region.

“This is very significant. This can be both a good and bad thing,” she said.

Because NFA rice is chiefly subsidized by the government, the agency loses money when it sells, she said. However, the government cannot afford a price hike in rice as this is a staple in the Filipino diet.

On the bright side, government participation stabilizes the price of rice in the market, offering people a cheaper alternative to the other rice types on the market.

At present, there are a total of 1,743 accredited and licensed retail and commercial outlets distributing rice in Region VII. Of the total number of outlets, some 852 are active retailers.

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TAGS: Cebu, Central Visayas, imported rice, National Food Authority, NFA, rice supply

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