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BANTAY BIGAS CLAIMS
NFA hit for raising false alarm on rice shortage
By Ding Cervantes

Feb 08, 2018

ANGELES CITY -- A multisectoral group accused yesterday the National Food Authority (NFA) of “repeatedly raising false alarm over rice shortage to justify more importation” instead on focusing on buying more palay from farmers.

Bantay Bigas, a coalition composed of people’s organizations of farmers, retailers, rice millers, consumers, and land reform and food security advocates, hit the NFA for pushing the importation of 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice as response to the allegedly dwindling rice stocks.

Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo noted that “many retailers in Metro Manila have complained of total lack of NFA rice costing P27 and P32 per kilo since last month.

“Under NFA’s continuing import-dependent policy, food security is being undermined and the poor are being pushed into aggravated hunger,” she said.

Bantay Bigas lamented that “NFA is importing more rice than buying local palay. It is already acting as a broker for imported rice, instead of working towards ensuring food security in the country.”

The group recalled that in 2016, NFA procured lower than one per cent or 107,877 MT of the more than 17 million MT locally produced palay.

“When milled at 65 percent milling rate, NFA bought only about 70,000 MT, while it imported 200,000 MT that year. The imports were also subsidized by the national government with P4.25 billion, though NFA spent only P3.87 billion for local procurement,” Estavillo noted.

The group also accused the NFA triggering some panic among rice consumers so as to boost its plan for rice importation.

“How can the NFA cry shortage, when the fact is that the rice stock in the country has been turned over to the private sector or traders, at a higher price?” Estavillo added.

She denounced the “deliberate reduction of NFA’s share in the country’s total rice stock, which in 2011 reached to about 50 percent or 1.7 million MT of the total local production of 3.4 million MT, to a dramatic fall in 2016 at 906,000 MT or a mere 28 percent of the total 3.2 million MT production in 2016.”

On the other hand, commercial stocks increased from 557,000 MT or mere 16 percent, to 965,000 or 30 percent during the same period, she said.

“This is a result of the NFA’s policy of decoupling its regulatory and proprietary function, and limit itself only to the task of buff er stocking,” Bantay Bayan said in the statement.



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