SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ – For at least two months, or until the imported NFA rice arrives, rice millers in Nueva Ecija and two other provinces in Luzon have committed to supply the Metro Manila markets with cheap but quality rice.
“They are newly harvested and milled rice and the price is pegged at P39 per kilogram,” according to Mel Coronel, president of the Nueva Ecija Rice Millers Association. “We are downloading them to wholesalers or directly to retailers.” He said all the 60 members of his association are individually sending their committed number of bags to their respective assigned areas in Metro Manila. They are expected to complete delivery of 100,000 cavans (of 50 kg each) this month until next month, he added.
“It is our response to a call from President Duterte to help our poor countrymen in Metro Manila to be able to buy commercial rice at a cheaper price. Actually, we are selling our rice at loss but we are happy that in a way we are able to help our countrymen,” Coronel said.
He said they were met by the President in Malacañang last April 5 to sound the call. They started rolling their committed volume of rice last April 16.
The rice millers’ association from Bulacan and Isabela have also committed to supply the Metro Manila Market, and possible even some places in Southern Tagalog, with cheap but quality rice.
“They are regular milled rice, pure white, and with enticing scent,” Coronel said. ‘We make sure that it is not mixed with kala (impurities, like yellowish in color).”
Coronel is the chief operating officer of the family-owned Sta. Rita Rice Mill here which is one of the biggest palay trader and miller in the province.
For the Nueva Ecija supply, it can be distinguished in retail stores with the label “Tulong sa Bayan” – Nueva Ecija and the price tag of P39. The NFA is monitoring the supplied rice.
Each customer is entitled up to three kilograms every time they procure this specially programmed rice allocation.
“The NFA personnel are making sure that this especially allocated rice is not mixed with low class rice, like the sorter rice, which sells very cheap,” Coronel said.
Sorter rice are the rejects in rice mills which are bought usually for pet animal feed. It sells at P27 per kilogram.
“We are asking the public to report if there are retailers mixing our rice with low class rice,” Coronel said.
“What we want is to let the poor sector of society partake of the famous Nueva Ecija rice at an affordable price,” Coronel said.
Currently, the ex-farm price of palay in Nueva Ecija is not less than P20 per kilogram and the dried play at P24.50 per kg. Estimates said that when milled, it will cost in the market at double that procurement price.
For months now, the poor rice consumers in Metro Manila have been complaining because of the absence of the NFA rice which is usually sold at P27 to P28 per kilogram.
This development, including unfounded reports of rice shortage in the country, most likely triggered the jump in price of the commercial rice to at least P40 per kilogram.
The imported NFA rice is expected to arrive in June this year.