[Ensure supply of Php27/kilo of rice] Farmers urge NFA to release rice buffer stocks in time of COVID19 emergency

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Anakpawis Partylist today strongly urged the National Food Authority (NFA) to immediately unload its rice buffer stocks to local markets and ensure the retail price of Php27 per kilo for regular milled rice and Php32 per kilo for well-milled rice during this emergency situation to stabilize rice supply and prices and to prevent further overpricing and profiteering.

“The NFA should have strategically pre-positioned and made available for retail rice stocks in NFA-licensed retail outlets but the rice liberalization law restricted the NFA to only a “rolling buffer stocking” scheme. Before the quarantine started last week, the prevailing price of commercial regular milled rice is at Php35 per kilo while the commercial well-milled rice is at Php40 per kilo. These prices are unaffordable and exorbitant at this time of emergency. Dapat maglagay ng suplay ng bigas ang NFA sa mga palengke para hindi tumaas nang husto ang presyo at may mabiling abot-kayang bigas ang masa,” says KMP chairman emeritus Rafael Mariano.  

“The total lockdown is expected to continue until April 13, and people rushing to buy their consumption and food supply would affect the supply and prices of rice, a staple food of Filipinos,” said Mariano, adding that we do not want to experience what happened in Hubei, China where residents rioted in protest of inflated food prices.

As of March 12, the NFA said that the total government rice stock is 9.636 million bags or 481,800 MT which is equivalent to a 14.5-day rice consumption requirement of the whole country at 661,930 bags. These stocks are stored in different strategically located warehouses in all provinces. 

“The NFA previously reassured that there is enough rice inventory in NCR, but what about for the entire Luzon?,” Mariano asked. “We need to know the details and projections,” he added. 

Earlier this week, the NFA said the rice supply for Metro Manila is good for 40 days or equivalent of 455,000 bags of rice. Some 2,224,120 bags or 111,206 metric tons (MT) of rice is expected to be delivered to NCR but with the island-wide lockdown, Luzon provinces will have to secure their own supply first. NCR will receive 311,920 bags (15,596 MT) from Region 1; 1,000,000 bags (50,000 MT) from Region 2; and 912,200 bags (45,610 MT) from Region 3. “The Luzon-wide lockdown might affect these expected deliveries.”

Before the enactment of RA 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law, the NFA was mandated to have at least 15-days worth of buffer stock at any given time except during the lean season when it is required to have 30-day buffer stock which could only be released during calamities and emergencies. #

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