MANILA, Philippines — Senator Cynthia Villar on Sunday refuted claims that there is a shortage of rice, vowing to conduct her own inquiry into the supposed failure of the National Food Authority (NFA) to keep a buffer stock of cheap rice.
In a radio interview, Villar, chairman of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said that there is a sufficient supply of rice; however, the NFA allegedly failed to keep a buffer stock of affordable rice.
“We don’t have rice shortage. What we have is a shortage of NFA rice. Because the NFA is mandated to by 15 days buffer stock either for our farmers o for import,” Villar said in mix Filipino and English.
Earlier, Senator Nancy Binay hit the shortage of NFA rice and questioned the efforts of the inter-agency National Food Authority Council in addressing the declining supply of affordable rice.
“It is true that there is enough supply of rice in the market but we are running out of NFA rice,” Binay said in mix Filipino and English.
Villar added that the Senate will probe the status of NFA rice supply on February 27, saying that the focus will be on the low buffer stock of NFA rice and the efforts of the agency to keep rice prices stable.
The senator also urged the NFA to go to provinces where farmers offer cheaper rice like Antique, Bicol, and Palawan and not in Central Luzon where the price of rice per kilo is higher.
“They say that they cannot buy locally because their mandate is to just buy rice that sold P17 pesos per kilo. I said that they should find provinces where rice is cheaper. There a lot of provinces that offer affordable rice,” she said.
The NFA is required by the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) to have at least 15-day buffer stock at any given time and 30-day buffer stock during the lean season, which usually starts in July until September.
“They are the ones who have a problem, not our rice supply,” Villar said.