In lieu of NFA rice, it’s “sorter rice” that poor consumers prefer to buy

    (“Sorter rice” replaced the NFA supply in this box as the subsidized commodity stopped coming in a retail store at the public market of the Science City of Muñoz. Formerly bought only by well-off buyers for their pet animal’s food, this kind of rice which is a mixture of the spoils and impurities spewed out by the color sorter machines in ricemills, it is now bought by poor consumers at P27 a kilogram. Photo by Elmo Roque)

    SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ – In the absence of the NFA rice in the market, the poor are buying the “sorter” kind which is as cheap as the subsidized commodity and definitely affordable than the sky-rocketed commercial kind in the market nowadays.

    Its selling price is fixed at P27 per kilogram at a stall of a rice retailer in the public market here.

    “It is a mixture of whole, broken, and chalky grains gathered at the end of the milling process,” said the retailer.

    “But it also includes sweepings, seeds of weeds, some small stones and kala,” he added.

    Kala is the term for yellowish grains.

    Modern rice millers, it was learned, uses a color sorter machine that shoots out milled grains with defects and impurities.

    These castouts, along with the sweepings after the de-hulling and shelling process of the palay, have altogether been labelled as “sorter rice”.

    “They used to be bought only by well-off buyers who use them for their pet animals, like dog. Nevertheless, it is fit for human consumption only that it lacks the steaming white cooked rice preferred by the eater,” the retailer, who did not wish to be identified, said.

    He added that almost as many of as his previous customers of the NFA rice became “sorter rice” buyers starting last January when the agency stopped distributing its usual allocation to retailers.

    He said he is supplied at least 15 bags (of 50 kilograms each) of “sorter rice” per week. It was almost similar to the NFA rice’s weekly allocation then.

    He said he pays P25 a kg.

    The P2 mark-up, he added, is good enough and it helps satisfy the need for cheap rice of his customers for their family’s consumption.

    Price hike

    A recent report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said that from the third week of February, the selling price of P36.90 per kilogram of rice has gone up now to P40.33 per kg for wholesale and from P39.31 per kg to P43.10 per kg for retail for the well-milled.

    It also revealed the price of commercial rice has risen at least 20 percent since the first week of January.

    This upward trend in the selling price in the market, it said, may continue up to the first week of June when the government NFA imported rice is expected to arrive.

    Compared to last year’s selling price of rice in the same period, according to the PSA, it rose by 6.01.

    That time, it was noted that there was available NFA rice being allocated to rice retailers for sale to the public.

    The rice retailer at the public market here said their allocation of NFA was cut down from 20 bags a week to five bags last December.

    Then it stopped early weeks of January.

    NFA authorities in Nueva Ecija said their 8,700 bags of rice in their warehouse were intended for calamity-stricken areas.

    The Philippine Rice Research Institute (Phil- Rice) issued a statement this week saying that the country’s rice stock of three million tons in the first quarter of this year, which included the carry-over stock from last year, can last up to 87 days supply.

    It also said that the country achieved an unprecedented high production last year of 19.3-million tons of palay which translated to 12.5 m t of milled rice.

    Nevertheless, the element of its affordability by the bulk of consumers is lost when it becomes available in the market.

    “High cost of production which included costs of labor and input makes the locally produced rice unaffordable. To produce one kilogram of palay in the country, the cost is P12.41 In Vietnam, it is P6.53 per kg and can be sold at P27 per kg. even with its tariff of 35 percent,” it said.

    In Thailand and India, both rice exporting countries, the cost to produce one kilogram of palay is at only P8.85 and P8.87, respectively.

    PhilRice said that despite the high palay harvest, rice importation of rice as buffer stock is needed due to the seasonality of rice production in the country. It is very low in the third quarter which is called the “gawat” or lean months, it said.


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