NFA asked to dispose of excess rice stocks



By Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

31 July 2010


MANILA, Philippines—Civil society and peasant groups yesterday called on the National Food Authority (NFA) to dispose of its rice stocks within the next two months to prevent unfair competition with the local palay that will come in during the October-November harvest season.


This move is also expected to help poor farmers avail themselves of cheap rice, especially at this time when the palay producers themselves go to the traders for the rice that they will need for their own consumption.


“The NFA is swimming in rice while the farmers are inundated in loans. Rice as a staple food of Filipinos has been the source of corruption and politicking,” said Jaime Tadeo, president of the National Rice Farmers Council.


No choice

Trinidad Domingo, chair of Pambansang Koalisyon ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), said that when rice farms were devastated by the twin typhoons of “Ondoy” and “Pepeng,” the farmers had no choice but to sell their produce to traders at a sell-out price of P10 to P11 per kilogram.


“The NFA was not as aggressive in buying our palay then as when they went on a shopping binge of imported rice from Vietnam several months later,” Domingo added.


As of June 28, NFA data showed that the country’s total rice stocks is good for 99 days worth of consumption. The country’s daily rice requirement stands at 36,300 tons.


Even with a huge buffer stock, however, the supply of imported rice keeps coming in after the government purchased a record 2.45 million metric tonnes at the beginning of the year.


Charge Arroyo


Willy Marbella, deputy secretary general of KMP (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas), urged the new administration to file criminal and other charges against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap as well as former officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the NFA for the rice overimportation.


Aside from filing the appropriate charges, the NFA and the DA should impose a six-year moratorium on the importation of rice and instead pursue measures that would increase domestic rice production, stop the conversion of rice lands and assure irrigation for more than 3 million hectares of lands devoted to rice production, the farmers’ groups said.


Lita Mariano of Bantay Bigas and Amihan peasant women’s group also urged the Aquino government to increase the buying capacity of the NFA to 25 percent of the total domestic palay production.












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