Farmers ask NFA to distribute rice before it gets rotten


Jerrie M. Abella/JV.


31 July 2010


Farmers' groups on Friday asked the National Food Authority (NFA) to distribute to people the sacks of rice stocked in its warehouses before they start rotting and be unfit for human consumption.

The groups said the stocked rice is now showing signs of deterioration as it slowly discolors before finally becoming pulverized.

"Nagkakaroon na ng maraming pulbos. Ang pulbos ng bigas ay carcinogenic (A lot is turning into powder. Powder from rice is carcinogenic)," said National Rice Farmers Council spokesperson Jaime Tadeo, in an interview aired over GMA News’ "24 Oras" newscast.


The rice stocks are likewise now infested by pests such as ants and bukbok or weevil, and even the chemicals sprayed on the sacks of rice to prevent deterioration are dangerous to health, Tadeo’s group said.

"May bukbok na yung bigas. Samahan mo pa ng spray, lason 'yung pinang-spray nila, sako lang yung kinalalagyan ng bigas. Talagang delikado na 'yung bigas," added Trinidad Domingo, chairperson of Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan.

(The rice already has weevil. Add the spray they applied, which is toxic, while the rice is contained only in sacks. This means the rice is really hazardous to eat.)

The group thus urged the NFA to remove already rotting rice stocks out of its warehouses, and distribute those which are still safe for human consumption.

Two other farners' groups have likewise trooped to an NFA warehouse in Visayas Ave. in QC to demand the distribution of the excessive rice stocks.

"Huwag itong padadaanin sa local government units dahil magiging dahilan na naman ito ng korupsyon. Idiretso ito sa amin at sa mga samahang magsasaka immediately. Libre dapat dahil napagkakitaan na ito ng gobyerno," declared Axel Pinpin, secretary general of the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan.

(The rice should directly be given to us, to farmers' groups instead of to local government units, since that will again be the cause for corruption. It should be given for free because the government has already profited from it.)

Bantay-Bigas added that those stocks already determined as rotting should not be given out.

"Dapat hindi pinapakain ang bulok sa mamamayan. Bakit kung kailan nabubulok, saka nila ipapakain? Ano naman ang palagay nila sa mamamayan, baboy? Baboy nga mismo, baka hindi kainin 'yang nabubulok na NFA rice na yan," Bantay-Bigas spokesperson Lita Mariano said.

(Rotten rice should not be distributed to the people. Why would they distribute it only now when it is already rotten? Do they think of people as pigs? Even pigs may refuse to eat this rotten NFA rice.)

NFA spokesperson Rex Estoperes, however, faced the protesting groups and assured them that the agency will not distribute rotten rice, whether commercially or for free.

"Meron naman tayong laboratory na pinagte-testing whether it's fit or unfit for human consumption. Once na i-declare na siya na damaged, huwag mo na i-recommend for disposal, not unless sinasabi ng ating laboratory na pwede pa sa animal consumption," Estoperes said.

(We have laboratories where we test whether the rice is fit or unfit for human consumption. Once it is declared as damaged, we won't recommend it for disposal, unless laboratory tests would show that it is still good for animal consumption.)

He added the stocked rice is regularly tested if it is still edible.

On Saturday, the Agriculture and Social Welfare departments, together with NFA, will meet to discuss what to do with the stocks of rice.

President Benigno Aquino III earlier pointed out in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the government may have over-imported rice that are now rotting in warehouses, even as millions of Filipinos go hungry

This prompted the NFA to audit its systems, with NFA administrator Lito Banayo admitting that their warehouses are indeed "overflowing" with rice supply.

"Punong puno po kami ng bigas. Naliligo kami sa bigas (We are so brimming full of rice. We are swimming in rice)," Banayo earlier said.












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