By Celso Amo
DARAGA, Albay --- Albay Second District Congressman Joey Sarte Salceda said that big rice traders are now in control of NFA rice in Naga City and Camarines Sur.
Salceda, however, did not give details who these big time rice traders are and how they were able to corner NFA rice allocations.
But NFA has questionable practice before by selling or disposing of NFA rice stocks to big time rice dealers who then repack and sell them as commercial rice
at higher prices.
Some homeowners in Naga City said they sometimes smell NFA rice mixed in the supposedly high-priced premium rice they bought in some rice outlets, including those sold in malls.
“So I am calling the attention of Albay NFA provincial director to ensure and maintain an equitable distribution of NFA rice especially to small retailers,” Salceda said.
The Albay lawmaker has just turned over during a simple program at the municipal gym Thursday afternoon here four heavy duty hand tractors from the Department of Agriculture to farmer’s and irrigation organizations in Barangays Tabon-Tabon, Burgos, Lacag and Salvacion.
He also turned over four units of threshers to farmers’ organizations in Barangays Pandan, Mabini, Alcala, Salvacion, Lacag, Burgos and Tabon-Tabon, all in Daraga town to boost rice production and cut post-harvest losses.
Nelsie Alcantara, supervising grains operations officer of the NFA regional office in Bicol, assured the congressman that their agency has a distribution plan that is being followed as a standard procedure.
“So we don’t favor any group or anybody,” said Alcantara during an interview at her office at Pier Site here.
Alcantara said two Vietnamese vessels the MB An Tan Pho had already unloaded 126,000 sacks of imported rice last week of June while MB Globe had also unloaded 74,000 bags of rice in first week of July at Tabaco City port.
She said the first shipment of 126,000 bags of rice were distributed to Albay with 25,000 bags; Camarines Norte 13,000 bags; Camarines Sur 35,000 ; Catanduanes 14,000 bags; Masbate 14,000 bags ; Sorsogon 15,000 bags and a regional buffer stock of 10,000 bags..
“We are doing this because if any province suddenly needs new allocations in time of emergency or a calamity the regional buffer stock can be used immediately,” said Alcantara.
On the second shipment totalling 74,000 bags, Albay got 15,000 bags of rice; Camarines Norte 7,000; Camarines Sur 15,000; Catanduanes 14,000; Masbate 14,000 and Sorsogon 9,000 bags.
“We are expecting another third shipment of 200,000 bags by the end of July,” Alcantara added.
The National Food Authority in Camarines Sur announced last week that NFA rice are now available at P27 per kilo from NFA-authorized stores in the towns of Camarines Sur, including the cities of Iriga and Naga.
Alexander Parrera, NFA Camarines Sur provincial manager, said 23 towns from a total of 35, including the cities of Iriga and Naga had already received their respective rice allocations.
So far 3,000 sacks had been delivered to Camarines Sur with 27,000 sacks more are expected to be delivered for the needed stocks for the province.
Parrera also coordinated with Naga City Mayor John Bongat last week to inform him of NFA’s support to the food needs of city residents especially to poor and indigent families through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) including relief operations in times of crisis and calamities.