NFA strategically positions rice stocks for rainy months

National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Jessup P. Navarro on Saturday said the agency’s regional offices have speeded up positioning of rice stocks across the country in preparation for the rainy season.

Navarro said with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) announcing the end of summer, the positioning of government stocks is a top priority for rice deficit areas and island provinces prone to calamity and isolation during the rainy months.

"With the country's archipelagic nature, it is important to maintain sufficient rice supply in its more than 7,000 islands, majority of which are populated," he said in a press statement.

The NFA is also intensifying its rice distribution activities by tapping the private sector and directing the arrival and unloading of rice imports in various disports across the country.

A long range plan is the continuous establishment of storage facilities including satellite warehouses in several islands to serve as rice depots supplying adjacent islands. Examples are the on-going construction of the 30,000 bags capacity warehouse in Dinagat island and the 15,000-bag capacity satellite warehouse in the island of Siargao, both in Surigao del Norte.

Meanwhile, Navarro said the major rice consuming areas and urban cities received most of the imported rice allocations. Metro Manila got 28 percent of the total imports while the cities of Cebu and Davao/General Santos got 17 and 12 percent each. Subic received 10 percent of the imports allocation.

As of the third week of May, a total of 349,600 metric tons or close to seven million bags of rice have already arrived in Manila and another 120,250 MT or 2.4 million bags in Subic in Zambales.

For rice import allocations for Visayas and Mindanao, 113,350 MT or 2.3 million bags have reached Cebu, 72,850 MT in Davao or 1.4 million bags, and 41,150 MT or 823,000 bags in General Santos City.

Navarro said the rice importation and intensive palay procurement during the last main harvest and during the summer crop have effectively augmentedthe NFA's rice inventory.

As of the third week of May, the NFA has some 23.6 million bags of rice which will be sufficient for the next five months based on the agency's average daily rice sales of 148, 377 bags. The volume is equivalent to 34 days food security requirement based on the country's daily need of 35,000 metric tons.

To further improve its grains inventory this year, the NFA is targeting to buy 18.5 million bags of palay higher than the 13.2 million bags of palay procured in 2008.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap stepped up efforts to increase domestic palay production last year following a supply shortage that pushed prices of the Filipino staple up.

The DA's implementation of the Fields program which has encouraged farmers to plant palay also improved the country's production of the staple. FIELDS stands for fertilizer, irrigation, extension, loans, dryers and other post harvest facilities and seeds. - GMANews.TV

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