THE South Korean government recently donated 950 metric tons (MT) of rice to the Philippines for distribution to those affected by natural disasters and calamities last year.

Beneficiaries include flood victims in Cagayan Valley and earthquake victims in North Cotabato, Davao del Sur, and other areas in the Davao and SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City) Regions.

The donation is part of South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) emergency food assistance.

National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Judy Carol L. Dansal said the non-glutinous rice, a part of the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve Tier 3 (APTERR Tier 3) program, was shipped by the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation.

The rice donations arrived at the ports last March.

“NFA is set to turn over the South Korean rice donation to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for distribution to affected families in Regions 11 (Davao), 12 (SOCCSKSARGEN), and Cagayan Valley as identified by the DSWD in coordination with the concerned local government units,” Ms. Dansal said.

The APTERR Tier 3 is a regional cooperation involving ASEAN member countries together with South Korea, Japan, and China.

Meanwhile, Ako Bicol Party-list Representative Alfredo A. Garbin, Jr. said NFA can cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by matching the offer of private rice traders and buying palay (unmilled rice) at a high rate.

In a statement yesterday, Mr. Garbin said with a “buy high and sell low” tactic, NFA can help farmers, consumers, and local governments who need to source affordable rice for their relief goods to poor families.

He added that the price difference can be treated as a consumer subsidy consistent with Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, and with safety net provisions of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN Law).

“After giving good value to the rice farmers for their harvest, NFA can then sell at a loss in public markets, pricing its rice at lower than the prevailing market prices for commercial rice,” Mr. Garbin said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave