Government may lose P1.18 billion monthly – farmers

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Government may lose P1.18 billion monthly � farmers
National Food Authority rice stocks.

MANILA, Philippines — The government will lose at least P1.18 billion monthly with the National Food Authority Council’s decision to sell old rice stocks at P29 per kilo through Kadiwa stores, the Federation of Free Farmers said yesterday.

The NFA needs to subsidize P6 per kilo or P414 million monthly to service 6.9 million households if the palay was bought at P23 per kilo, or P1.18 billion monthly if the palay was procured at P30 per kilo, FFF national manager Raul Montemayor told The STAR.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. on Wednesday said the NFA Council, which he chairs, has approved the recommendation to sell aging but good NFA rice stocks at P29 per kilo through Kadiwa stores.

Under the Bigas 29 program, vulnerable sectors like persons with disabilities, solo parents, senior citizens and indigenous people who collectively comprise 6.9 million households, or over 34 million Filipinos, will benefit from the P29 per kilo of rice.

“Per the Philippine Statistics Authority, NFA’s inventory in rice equivalent as of May 1 was only 69,000 metric tons. If the report that the NFA will sell 10 kilos per month to 6.9 million poor households is correct, that means the NFA’s existing buffer stock as of May 1 will be depleted in just one month,” Montemayor explained.

The NFA reported that it bought 3.365 million cavans of palay in the first half of 2024 after increasing its buying price to P30 per kilo, he noted.

While rice stocks as of May 1 could be considered aging stocks, those that have been bought recently will start deteriorating after two to three months in rice form and five to six months in palay form, Montemayor said.

“There are reports of the possibility of NFA importing rice notwithstanding the provisions of Rice Tariffication Law (RTL),” he said, referring to Republic Act 11203 which prohibits the NFA from importing rice.

Tiu Laurel earlier said the DA plans to import 363,697 MT of rice to augment national buffer stocks, while the NFA will procure 559,535 MT of palay from local farmers.

Proposed RTL amendments to allow the NFA to import rice are still pending in Congress.

The House of Representatives has approved the proposed measure on third and final reading while the Senate is still deliberating.

Tiu Laurel said the government aims to roll out the Bigas 29 program nationwide in early July.

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