THE National Food Authority (NFA) said its procurement of palay (unmilled rice) has hit 3.37 million 50-kilogram bags as of June 13, sufficient to meet about four days’ consumption for the rice equivalent.

In a statement, the NFA said: “This translates to approximately 168,262 metric tons (MT) of palay. The total inventory is now sufficient to cover four days of national consumption in case of emergencies or disasters,” it said.

The NFA added that the higher than target purchasing was due to the higher palay buying price approved by the NFA council in April.

The NFA Council approved a buying price for palay of P23 to P30 per kilogram (kg) for dry and clean palay and P17 to P23 per kg for fresh palay, depending on location.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of the NFA Council’s decision to raise palay procurement prices. We will continue with this program to ensure our rice farmers enjoy the fruits of their hard work,” Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. said.

The previous purchase price for dry and wet palay was P19-P23 and P16-P19 per kg, respectively.

“We continue to scour the countryside for additional palay that we can buy to bolster the national buffer stock,” NFA Administrator Larry R. Lacson said.

The agency added that P17 billion was allocated for rice procurement this year, including funds rolled over from 2023.

“The NFA still retains around P12 billion for palay procurement in the second half of the year, despite significant purchases at higher prices in recent weeks,” it said.

Mr. Lacson has said that 60% of the NFA’s requirements will be bought during the second half.

The NFA is targeting a rice reserve of 495 thousand MT by the end of the year. — Adrian H. Halili