MANILA — The National Food Authority (NFA) could have more affordable rice available for sale to Filipinos beginning April if the agency gets the go-signal to and starts importing the staple grain this February through government-to-government (G2G) arrangement.
This was according to NFA information officer Cynthia Suarez, who noted G2G facilitates importation, since governments concerned transact directly with each other under this arrangement.
“Such arrangement takes about 45 days only,” she said, noting rice importation under government-to-private (G2P) scheme takes longer.
NFA has admitted its rice inventory is already running low.
The agency explained that aside from the time needed for the bidding process itself, the G2P arrangement involves compliance requirements under RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The country may have to wait until around May for inbound rice shipments if the NFA imports the grain this February under G2P, the agency said.
G2G and G2P are government’s authorized arrangements for NFA rice importation.
Created in 1972 as the National Grains Authority, the NFA is the government agency tasked with providing an adequate local supply of affordable rice and corn while ensuring reasonable return rates for Filipino farmers.
The agency said it must maintain 15 days’ and 30 days’ rice buffer stocks at any given time and during the July-September lean season, respectively, to ensure availability of lower-cost rice nationwide.
“Regular well-milled” NFA rice costs PHP27/kilogram, while “well-milled” NFA rice costs PHP32/kg — lower than commercial rice in the market.
This week, however, the NFA said its total inventory of some 1.2 million bags of rice may last for two days only.
Such situation has prompted the agency to recalibrate its distribution of the remaining rice, prioritizing as recipients government agencies involved in relief operations.
Earlier, the NFA Council approved the agency’s 250,000-metric-ton (MT) rice importation for this year.
NFA is awaiting the council’s authorization for this agency to proceed with the importation.
Despite its shrinking inventory, the agency said there was no rice shortage in the country, since commercial rice was available in the market.
The council expects private importers to complete bringing into the country some 325,000 MT of rice by end-February.
That importation, the NFA noted, comprises the first tranche of the 690,000 MT of rice private importers are authorized to ship into the country this year.
Such imports would be sold as commercial rice, the agency said. (PNA)