The National Food Authority (NFA) in Bohol is now limiting the distribution of its rice supply to retailers amid uncertainty in the agency’s future role in the nation’s food security.
According to NFA Bohol manager Ping Evasco, the agency’s central office directed them to limit the sale of the subsidized rice varieties as the Rice Tariffication Bill awaits President Duterte’s approval or veto.
“We received instruction from central office to calibrate our sale, considering the situation of NFA nga nag-huwat pa ta para sa unsa g’yuy dangatan sa Senate Bill 1998 or the Rice Tariffication Bill,” Evasco said.
Last month, the Senate transmitted to the Office of the President the harmonized version of Senate Bill 1998 and House Bill 7735, or an “Act Replacing the Quantitative Import Restrictions on Rice with Tariffs, Lifting the Quantitative Export Restrictions.”
The NFA, if the bill is enacted, would be relegated to keeping buffer stock for emergency purposes and buying unmilled rice from farmers.
“Under the said bill, if ever if ever it will be enacted into law, ang NFA will be reduced to a buffer-stocking agency,” Evasco said.
The agency will no longer be able to import and consequently distribute subsidized rice varieties.
“So it will be the commercial sector na nga maoy nay mopadagan sa industriya sa bugas wala nay intervention ang gobyerno through NFA,” she added.
Earlier this month, 32,000 sacks of NFA rice which were imported from Thailand were shipped to Bohol.
Evasco noted that the delivery was the last NFA rice shipment for 2019, and possibly the last while the pending legislation is implemented.
Duterte, during his previous State of the Nation Address, pushed for the Rice Tariffication Bill which he said would lower rice prices and end the country’s “artificial rice shortage.” (Allen Doydora)