MANILA–Top central office executives and regional directors of the National Food Authority (NFA) recently met for an emergency strategic planning in view of a possible effect on local rice inventories by the delay in approval by the NFA Council for a government-to-government negotiation for the immediate importation of half of the 500,000 metric tons rice imports approved for 2016.
“Delaying further the approval for the G to G importation of the 250,000 MT balance could adversely affect the buffer stock position of the government and make it difficult for NFA to maintain the minimum levels of food security rice requirements during normal times, more so during the lean months period,” NFA administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino said.
Aquino had sought the approval for the G to G importation as early as January to ensure that the rice would arrive in the country by April and to give NFA enough lead time to preposition the stocks to calamity-prone areas across the country.
The NFA Council had not acted on the request up to this time.
The NFA Management discussed strategies meant to address the possibility of low government inventories even as the agency had already increased its local palay procurement target by 40 percent for 2017.
The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) has prescribed that the NFA, as food security watchdog of government, should maintain a rice buffer stock good to last for 15 days at any given time and for 30 days at the onset of the lean months from July to September, based on the daily consumption requirement of 32,150 MT or 643,000 bags.
As a stopgap measure, Aquino had instructed NFA field officials to prudently manage inventories and ensure sufficient supplies to satisfy the food security requirement for each province. He also ordered to fast track milling of the agency’s palay stocks to augment the supply of rice as well as to temporarily suspend the implementation of NFA rice sales to farmer organizations through the farmers’ cooperative development incentive fee (CDIF) and Farmers Incentive Rice Program (FAIR).
Aquino also instructed the immediate transfer of rice stocks to regions and provinces with critical inventory levels and to undertake emergency procurement of logistics and services, if necessary, to build up buffer stock inventories in their respective regions.
NFA officials are worried the agency may not be able to reach its higher palay procurement target as field reports show that farm-gate palay prices are much higher that the government’s support price. In many areas harvesting the summer crop, palay prices have been monitored to range within PHP18-PHP20/kilogram, higher than NFA’s support price of PHP17/kg even with incentives reaching PHP0.70- PHP1/kg. In addition to PHP17/kg, NFA also provides incentives of PHP0.20/kg for drying, PHP0.20-P0.50/kg for transport and PHP0.30/kg as cooperative development incentive fee for farmer cooperatives.