NFA stocks continue to dwindle

(The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Farmers are speculating that the current inventory of the National Food Authority is dwindling and that it may not be able to respond if calamities hit the country again.

While it welcomed the scrapping of the government-to-government rice imports, the Federation of Free Farmers surmised that the problem now is the NFA’s dwindling stocks.

“If prices spike during the lean months or we get hit by a calamity, NFA might not be able to respond effectively,” FFF national manager Raul Montemayor told The STAR.

“The problem will be if prices spike, or if we have a second (wave) of COVID crisis, or a string of typhoons hits us. NFA will have very limited stocks to respond,” he said.

Two weeks ago, NFA administrator Judy Dansal said the grains agency has enough for the coming lean months. However, he did not specify how many days stocks are good for.

The Department of Agriculture, also, has yet to provide the exact figures on the current inventory.

“I think they have only eight days equivalent or even less,” Montemayor said.

FFF noted that the depletion of NFA inventories was largely due to the mismanagement of the agency’s buffer stocks.

“Given the Rice Tariffication Law restrictions on government imports, they should have calibrated their releases last year. For a while, they were selling to anybody who wanted to buy,” Montemayor said.

“Then (Agriculture Secretary William) Dar ordered NFA to flood the market with NFA rice. They used the buffer stocks to bring down rice prices, not to prepare for calamities. Last harvest, they did not adjust their price so they were not able to buy enough to replenish their stocks,” he said.

Under the Rice Tariffication Law, NFA was stripped of its import powers and was limited to buffer stocking through local procurement.

Dansal earlier clarified that there is no mismanagement of the stocks of NFA and that the buffer stocks sourced from local production last year and the recent summer harvest were intended to cater to the needs of LGUs during calamities and emergencies such as the coronavirus outbreak.

“I think even with the imports, our stock level by June 30 will only be around 60 days. Tight but not necessarily a problem since imports could still come in during the lean months,” Montemayor said.

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