NFA gives rice importers 1-week extension due to bad weather

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NFA rice warehouse
Rice supply from NFA warehouse in Quezon City -- PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE National Food Authority (NFA) said it will give rice importers a one-week extension on the contracted arrival date of their shipments due to bad weather, but added that a substantial portion of the latest batch of imports has landed in various ports.

NFA Spokesperson Rex C. Estoperez said some 350,000 50-kilo bags (Lkg) were landed in the port of Subic; 500,000 Lkg bags in ports serving the National Capital Region; and 100,000 Lkg bags in Surigao.

The landed shipments are equivalent to 47,500 metric tons (MT) or close to a fifth of the 250,000 MT expected to arrive between May 31 and June 15. The government also auctioned a further 250,000 MT via open tender, for arrival between June and August.

Mr. Estoperez said in a phone interview on Wednesday that some shipments are facing delays.

The Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA) rules provide for a grace period of seven days for late deliveries, after which corresponding penalties will be meted out.

Mr. Estoperez added, however, that “penalties will not be imposed during periods of natural calamity.”

In addition, heavy rains have stalled the delivery of imported rice from both Thailand and Vietnam to the NFA’s warehouses.

“As soon as the weather becomes a little better, the stocks will be immediately brought to NFA warehouses and immediate dispersal will follow,” NFA administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino was quoted in a statement Wednesday.

“I have instructed all NFA field directors and managers to immediately distribute the stocks as soon as possible to give immediate relief to our poor countrymen, particularly those belonging to the marginalized sector, and help bring down rice prices,” he added.

The NFA’s inventory has been depleted since the end of March.

The NFA is tasked with maintaining a 15-day buffer at all times while doubling that inventory level during the lean months, between July and August. — Janina C. Lim