Grain retailers: Allow NFA to import 500,000 MT more rice


THE Grain Retailers’ Confederation of the Philippines Inc. (Grecon) is backing the proposal to allow the National Food Authority (NFA) to import more rice to tame the country’s inflation and bring down the retail prices of the staple.

Grecon President Jaime O. Magbanua said they support Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s proposal to allow the NFA to purchase an additional 500,000 MT to 800,000 MT of rice with staggered deliveries over the next five to six months.

“She is right. We support her proposal. The imported volume of NFA is not enough to have an effect on the market,”  Magbanua told the BusinessMirror in an interview.

“We support [the additional imports], and we hope that it could arrive the soonest possible time so that we could ease tension [on prices],” Magbanua added.

As the country is at its lean season of rice production, farm-gate price of palay has been steadily increasing, according to Magbanua.

For example, the buying price of wet palay in Western Visayas has now reached P25 per kilogram, which would be around P29 per kilogram when dried, he explained. This, according to Magbanua, easily translates into a retail price of P50 to P58 per kilogram of rice.

The industry’s rule of thumb is that the retail price of rice is double the farm-gate price of palay.

“We are appealing [to the government] to increase the volume of NFA rice in our area so that prices would go down,” he said.

Arroyo proposal

In a Facebook post, Albay Rep. Joey S. Salceda disclosed that Arroyo proposed that the NFA should purchase an additional 500,000 MT to 800,000 MT of well-milled rice with staggered deliveries over the next five to six months.

“In particular, the most basic item—rice, there is a plan to import 500,000 MT up to 800,000 MT with staggered delivery to minimize impacts on farm prices during the harvest season,” said Salceda, Arroyo’s special focal person for Counter-Inflation Measures.

The NFA has purchased 500,000 MT of rice abroad to revitalize its depleted stockpile and to resume the presence of affordable rice in the market.

The food agency is currently completing the unloading of the 250,000 MT it imported via government-to-government scheme. Meanwhile, the remaining 250,000 MT the NFA purchased via open tender is set to start arriving by end of the month.

Last month, NFA Administrator Jason Y. Aquino said they are proposing to import an additional 500,000 MT of rice before the year ends to prevent the depletion of its stockpile and the loss of affordable rice in the domestic market anew.


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