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Rice inventories increase 19.24% on eve of tariffication

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NFA rice warehouse
A worker at NFA Quezon City warehouse arranging newly arrived buffer stock. -- PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE inventory of rice held by households, commercial entities and the government rose 19.24% year on year as of Feb. 1, to 2,141.23 thousand metric tons (MT), with volumes held by households, the largest category, declining, while the National Food Authority’s (NFA) holdings rose nearly 400%, the Philippine Statistics Authority said on Thursday.

Households, which accounted for the biggest share of inventories at 48.22%, held 1,032.42 thousand metric tons (MT) of rice, down 5.09% year on year, it said.

Inventory held by the commercial sector was 811.20 thousand MT, up 25.45%, while National Food Authority (NFA) stocks amounted to 297.62 thousand MT, up 384.72% from a year earlier, bouncing back from a period when its dwindling inventories helped spark the 2018 inflation crisis.

The NFA imported a total of 750,000 MT of rice as authorized by the NFA Council in 2018, which was the last of its rice shipments from overseas before the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law, which effectively privatized imports of the staple. Under the law, the NFA will continue to buy palay, or unmilled rice, from domestic farmers to maintain its emergency reserve for subsidized sales to low-income families and for release during calamities.

The inventory of corn stocks was 781.52 thousand MT during the period, up 90.46%, following an increase in the holdings of households and commercial entities, while the NFA stock fell to zero.

Household inventory rose 96.85% to 145.90 thousand MT, while inventory in commercial was 635.62 thousand MT, up 89.27% from a year earlier. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio

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