AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that he plans to reorganize the National Food Authority (NFA) in consultation with President Rodrigo R. Duterte and incoming NFA Administrator Rolando Joselito D. Bautista.
In a chance interview on the sidelines of the ASEAN Agriculture Summit 2018, Mr. Piñol said: “I still have to discuss this with the President, then the incoming NFA Administrator. I really believe that NFA should undergo a major reshuffling. There’s got to be a movement of officials, with the emphasis on those who have been long in their posts and to weed out the weaklings.”
Mr. Duterte has said that he wants to appoint retiring Army Commanding General Rolando Joselito D. Bautista as NFA Administrator, to replace Jason L.Y. Aquino.
Under Mr. Aquino’s watch the inventory of NFA rice was allowed to decline, depriving the poor of a source of low-cost rice and forcing them to turn to commercial rice traders selling higher and more expensive grades.
“NFA has to regain its respectability. The only way to do that is to make sure that there are changes. We are not saying that those who are currently in the positions are incompetent or corrupt but in an organization, there has to be a periodic reshuffling and movement of officials,” Mr. Piñol said.
Mr. Piñol said in his speech at the summit that the NFA and the NFA Council disagreed on the mode of importation, which resulted in delayed shipments, which caused prices to rise.
“When you import rice, you have to take in the seasonality of the product,” Mr. Piñol said.
“What happened was the NFA, the agency and the council which is supposed to be composed of 14 wise men, disagreed on the mode of importation, and the importation was delayed,” according to Mr. Piñol.
The NFA also said that it used its funds to pay down maturing debt instead of buying palay from domestic farmers. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio