THE National Food Authority said on Thursday that its transfer to the control of the Department of Agriculture will help the two agencies better coordinate rice procurement and imports.
In a statement, the agency said that it “believes that the agency’s transfer to DA will give the two agencies the ability to synchronize agricultural policies like the timing of rice importation and market intervention as well as strengthen farmer assistance through NFA’s marketing channels, among others.”
In a text message, NFA Spokesperson Rex C. Estoperez said that the decision to place NFA under DA is for the better as there will be “close coordination [between] production and marketing.”
On Sept. 19, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Executive Order No. 62, placing the NFA, Philippine Coconut Authority and the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority under DA. The three agencies, along with the National Irrigation Administration used to be controlled by the DA but were transferred by Mr. Duterte’s predecessor Benigno C. Aquino III to the control of the Office of the President.
“The President has delivered a strong message that food security is his primary concern and he wants a more unified and realistic approach to agricultural development and food sufficiency programs for the country by putting together all agencies involved in these concerns,” the NFA said.
In a briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Herminio L. Roque noted that the DA has domestic production data to aid it in deciding when and how much rice to import.
“We believe that DA’s data on domestic production will make the process of determining when to import more efficient,” Mr. Roque added.
Mr. Roque said that the three agencies were only removed from DA during Mr. Aquino’s presidency to give Senator Francis N. Pangilinan a job as head of food security and agricultural modernization.
“These agencies were originally under the Department of Agriculture. They were only separated when Senator Pangilinan needed to be given a job,” according to Mr. Roque.
Meanwhile, the NFA assured the public that the rice inventory is sufficient in the regions affected by Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut).
“The NFA has sufficient stocks overall in Luzon, with at least 840,000 bags in the warehouses. The lower inventories in regions 2 and 3 were augmented by transferring 12,000 bags [of] additional rice stocks to Region 2,” Mr. Estoperez said in a statement.
“Because of the typhoons, we will propose to the NFA Council to allow us to import in advance. Many of our crops are damaged so we have to import earlier,” according to Mr. Estoperez.
More NFA rice outlets will also be opened after the agency signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association, Inc (PAGASA).
“There is also a possibility that the approved rice imports for NFA will be fast-tracked to arrive before December to ensure that there will be continuous supply of NFA rice in the markets as commercial rice prices remain high,” according to NFA.
Meanwhile, for Region II, NFA Regional Director Rocky L. Valdez said: “The region has sufficient rice stocks and we are still awaiting the additional rice allocation of 155,000 bags from Subic.”
“Unloading in Subic was obviously slowed down by inclement weather. That is why we asked NFA-NCR to transfer an additional 50,000 bags to Region 2 while our rice allocation from Subic is not yet delivered,” Mr. Valdez explained. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio with Arjay L. Balinbin