Vietnam rice now unloading at Tabaco port
By Jorge Hallare LEGAZPI CITY -- A total of 126,000 bags of imported rice from Vietnam are now being unloaded from a cargo vessel at the Tabaco City Port to be distributed among the warehouses of the National Food Authority in the six provinces of Bicol next week, a top NFA official in the region said. Edna De Guzman, regional director of NFA-Bicol, said Tuesday the 126,000 bags of rice comprise the first tranche of 400,000 bags of rice to be delivered from Vietnam under the G2G or government to government procurement program. The vessel carrying the rice arrived last June 15 but because of bad weather, unloading of the bags only started last Saturday, June 17. As of Tuesday, June 19, some 18,000 bags have been unloaded. De Guzman said they expect to finish the unloading very soon and will start to distribute the Vietnamese grains as NFA rice next week to answer the needs of consumers for lower priced commodity. She said they would allocate provisions to all six provinces of Bicol but the number of bags will depend upon the needs of the population and situation of every province. Albay will receive 25,000 bags; Camarines Norte, 13,000 bags; Catanduanes, 14,000 bags; Masbate, 14,000 bags; Sorsogon, 15,000 bags and Camarines Sur, the biggest allocation of 35,000 bags. The regional office of NFA will also have its initial reserve buffer stock of 10,000 bags. According to de Guzman, they have started supplying NFA rice to public markets and accredited retailers in Legazpi City, offering a lower price of P27 per kilo. She also said they are planning to launch an NFA outlet inside their regional office compound in this city for walk-in consumers. “Maybe next week we will start the truck to truck distribution of NFA rice in Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay and Sorsogon. We are now also preparing for the distribution in the island provinces of Masbate and Catanduanes that will start on July 1,” de Guzman added. The NFA official likewise said that the second vessel to deliver the remaining allocations for Bicol Region has started to load rice bags and they are expecting it to arrive several weeks from now. Bicol Region will receive this year at least 800,000 bags of rice as one-year buffer stocks. “We are also allocating not only for the food security but for stabilization of rice in public markets, calamity needs of LGUs and food for work programs of government agencies,” de Guzman said.