NFA fails to meet E. Visayas procurement target

By Sarwell Meniano

May 4, 2018, 7:33 pm

PALO, Leyte -- The National Food Authority (NFA) only procured 420 bags of locally-produced palay (unhusked rice) as of April out of its target of 56,000 bags for the Eastern Visayas region this year.

NFA Regional Director Henry Tristeza said it is not realistic to meet procurement targets with attractive prices offered by commercial traders this harvest season.

“It’s hard to compete with commercial traders because they have been buying palay at PHP22 to PHP24 per kg., up than our PHP17 per kg. price offering,” Tristeza said in an interview on Friday.

He said this is the first time for the NFA to get a very low procurement performance from locally-produced grains despite pressures to raise its stocks after the government rice shortage.

“We are happy that the price of palay set by private traders is high, considering that (this) is beneficial to farmers, but it’s bad to consumers because higher palay price means more expensive commercial rice in the market,” Tristeza said.

The NFA regional chief admitted that the absence of NFA rice in the market contributed to the increase in the price of commercial rice in the region from an average of PHP40 per kg. to PHP45 per kg.

“The availability of cheaper NFA rice in the market gives people the option not to buy more expensive staple food in the market,” Tristeza added.

The grains agency has stopped selling rice in the six Eastern Visayas provinces last February due to dwindling stocks.

The government attempted to replenish stocks through the import of 250,000 metric tons (MT), but bidding failed in the last week of April.

The NFA has set a reference price of USD483.63 per ton for a plan to import 50,000 MT of 15 percent broken rice, and USD474.18 per ton for 200,000 MT of 25 percent broken rice.

The agency will conduct another bidding on the 250,000 MT of rice that it intends to import this year through the government-to-government mode.

The NFA is sticking to its target of having the rice imports in the country not later than June 30.

The region has an allocation of 12,000 MT out of the total volume set for importation, according to Tristeza.

The grains agency allayed public fears of rice shortage considering that commercial traders and households in the region have been maintaining combined stocks of one million bags. (Joyce Piadora & Shiela Lebato,OJTs/PNA)