NFA rice distribution now widened
By Celso Amo LEGAZPI CITY --- The National Food Authority (NFA) in Bicol has increased the distribution of the basic commodity so that those living below the poverty line can buy more. Henry Tristeza, NFA regional manager for Bicol, said poor households can now buy up to ten kilos of NFA rice at their accredited outlets. “Just this morning I ordered our provincial managers to increase the rice supply distribution to our outlets so our beneficiaries who are households below the poverty can buy more of the commodity,” said Tristeza. Tristeza said NFA’s participation in the rice market in the region is now 23 percent. “But we are trying our best to hit at 40 percent participation rate so we can bring down the inflation rate through adequate rice supply in Bicol ,” said Tristeza. He said the task force is also monitoring if the NFA rice were able to reach their target. He said 9,000 bags of NFA rice had been distributed daily in various outlets in Bicol based on its available stock of 110,000 bags which could last for 12 days. “We are unloading 40,000 bags from M/V Bravo and last Friday (Oct. 5) another ship from Thailand had arrived at Tabaco City port to unload another 80,000 bags,” he said. All in all, there will be 234,000 bags of rice unloaded which is good for another 15 days stock. “But if we compare our present stock to the daily consumption in Bicol it will last only for three days,” he said. “This does not mean that all the people in Bicol will buy NFA rice. There are also many Bicolanos who can afford to buy commercial rice.” He said Bicol will get 400,000 bags more from another five million bags of rice importation which will arrive by the middle of November. “And hopefully we are expecting a good weather so the unloading will not be delayed,” he added. Tristeza said he has not mismanaged the office for the past month and a half. “We are still continuing to distribute the 100,000 bags which had been unloaded before, giving priority to the island provinces of Masbate and Catanduanes,” he said. He also said that he is interested to find out from those who gather inflation statistics whether the supply of NFA rice has a direct relationship to the alarming inflation in Bicol. All rice distribution fully accounted for “All rice which had been unloaded are accounted for and we have our own composite monitoring teams and if there are reports of diversion in some our outlets we can immediately act on it.” NFA rice is now sufficiently distributed on its accredited outlets in Bicol, said Tristeza. “I ask the retailers selling commercial rice to say that the price of rice still cannot be brought down because we are buying them at higher price, he said. The buying price of palay stands at P25 to 28, he said. All rice unloaded are accounted for and we are also have our own composite monitoring teams and there are reports of diversion in some our outlets but we immediately acted on it, the NFA chief added. NFA rice is now sufficiently distributed in all its accredited outlets in Bicol, said Tristeza. “As regional director of NFA in Bicol I had not mismanaged the office for the past month and a half,” he said. Tristeza said commercial rice traders cannot lower their prices because they are buying it at a higher price. But they assured him that they can lower the price of commercial rice if they can mix it with newly milled rice from the recent palay harvest. Bem Berango, Bicol-Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) information officer said the task force from the DTI, NFA, PNP, NBI, Bureau of Customs and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency(NICA) are now closely monitoring the distribution of NFA rice in the region. She said big rice millers especially in Camarines Sur which supplies the bulk of palay in the region were also visited and inspected. “Our goal is to monitor on the ground whether NFA rice which were distributed in various outlets were able to reach their intended targets,” said Berango. She said the task force has not found any violation, so far. On the other hand, Joel Barcelon, president of a group of vegetable sellers in Daraga, Albay said the price of tomatoes is P15 to P20 a kilo from P40.00 a kilo last month; string beans P15.00 a kilo from P40.00 last month; marigoso or ampalaya fetches now P50.00 a kilo; big green pepper is P100 to P120.00 a kilo compared to P130 a month earlier; carrots from Baguio is P130.00 to P160.00 a kilo. “There’s no lack of supply for these commodities here,” said Barcelon. He said that the price of these commodities in the local market rose last month because they were brought to Metro Manila. He is asking the authorities to encourage the planting of vegetables in cool areas in the province such as in Manito and at Mt. Malinao so that the supply for the local market could be stable instead of relying on the produce of other provinces.