THE National Food Authority’s (NFA) domestic rice purchasing target in the first half is about 350,000 metric tons of palay, or unmilled rice, also known as “paddy,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on Tuesday.
“With an initial budget of P7 billion, the NFA aims to buy 350,000 metric tons (MT) of paddy rice for the first half of 2019. This is equivalent to 227,500 MT or 4.450 million bags of (milled) rice,” Mr. Piñol said in a Facebook post.
“With a buying price of P17 per kilo plus an incentive of P3.70 per kilo, the NFA expects to hit the 350,000-metric ton procurement target well ahead of time,” Mr. Piñol added.
The NFA’s import functions are being taken away by the rice tariffication law and it is restructuring to become a purely domestic rice procurement agency, with a mission to maintain a rice buffer stock to smooth out local supply imbalances.
“We are projecting that in eight months, there will be no more imported rice at the NFA, and we have to prepare for September, October, November, December, during which the NFA will have to supply the market with locally-procured rice,” Mr. Piñol said in a briefing in Pasay City.
Mr. Piñol said 350,000 MT of palay is equivalent to 7 million bags.
Mr. Piñol said that NFA is willing to assist farmers if farmgate prices drop by buying more from farmers.
“We are not ruling out the possibility that if we need to assist in the pricing at farmgate level, we can access loans to procure more,” Mr. Piñol said.
Last year, the NFA Council approved the importation of 750,000 MT of rice from Thailand and Vietnam, which represents the last batch of rice imports by the NFA. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio