Until the National Food Authority (NFA) Inter-Agency Council approves the delivery of 250,000 metric tons of rice by the NFA, the public option will be limited to commercial rice at a higher price.
The NFA inter-agency council, chaired by Cabinet Sec. Leoncio Evasco Jr., has deferred the request for NFA delivery of 250,000 metric tons for the reason that there is still enough supply of commercial rice based on monitoring, NFA-Bohol Manager Maria Fe Evasco said.
“We will just hope and pray that the NFA council would approve, reconsider NFA’s request to import 250,000 metric tons of rice. It was deferred,” Evasco said.
She, however, dismissed speculations that this is designed to increase the prices of NFA rice in the light of the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
She explained that NFA rice only serves as buffer stock in case of shortage in the supply.
The supply that the NFA-regional office in Cebu is loading for shipment to Bohol is still part of the allocation for Bohol from the previously delivered stock.
Even if the stock from Cebu would arrive Bohol, distribution to retailers would still be limited as NFA-Bohol will still have to calibrate their sales until such time that their request for delivery of 250,000 metric tons of rice is approved by the NFA council.
The NFA-Bohol manager also explained that retailers are their least priority and if ever they would supply the retailers, it would be up to a limited number of bags only because they have to see to it that they have inventory that would be on standby in case of calamity.
NFA-Bohol received an instruction from the central and regional offices on February 5 to prioritize DSWD, Office of the Civil Defense, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Provincial DRRMC, and relief operations of local government units (LGUs) in case of calamity.
“In fact, the district jail and retailers are last priority,” according to the NFA-Bohol manager.
At available stock at present is intended for the requirement in case of calamity.
She added that if ever they would resume distribution to retailers, it would be at minimum order only or at limited number of sacks.
It had been reported earlier, that NFA-Bohol had temporarily stopped distribution of rice to accredited retailers which was the reason that no NFA rice had been made available to consumers from among the general public.
By then, NFA-Bohol had to reserve its stock for emergencies and calamities with the unavailability of the usual chartered vessel that could haul rice in bulk from Cebu depot.
The NFA-Bohol manager had then explained that they had “suspended the selling of NFA rice to accredited outlets”, and this it would be until the chartered vessel that used to bring the stock from Cebu to Bohol would be available.
As of then, the stock from Cebu depot of NFA regional office are shipped through Lite Shipping which could only carry 500 bags of NFA rice a day.
It was the reason why the supply of NFA rice in Bohol was limited and only commercial rice is sold by the accredited outlets of NFA.
The remaining stock at the NFA-Bohol warehouse in Tagbilaran City had since then reserved for DSWD, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology for the jails in Bohol, and local arms of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council for emergencies and calamities.
She had also explained earlier that this is considering that the current stock is only enough for the food security requirement in times of emergencies and calamities that would be attended to by the DSWD, and the food requirement of jails which is attended to by the BJMP and for relief operations of the disaster risk reduction and management units.
The NFA-Bohol manager added that the supply of NFA rice at that time had to be conserved to meet the requirement of these agencies as of the present situation until the chartered vessel would be available.