GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 19 June) – The National Food Authority (NFA) is set to increase by nearly three-folds its weekly allocation to accredited rice retailers here and nearby South Cotabato province in a bid to offset the rising prices of commercial rice in the area.
Guialudin Usman, NFA-South Cotabato manager, said Thursday they are currently consolidating their available local and imported rice stocks to facilitate their immediate “injection” or distribution into the local markets.
He said they will specifically increase the releases to their accredited rice retailers to around 1,500 to 2,000 bags per week from the current 600 to 700 bags.
The increase is equivalent to 40 to 50 bags per week for each NFA-accredited retailer or outlet, he said.
“We will further increase our weekly releases once we receive our additional allocation from the central office,” Usman said in a radio interview.
The official said they expect the augmentation stocks, which will be composed of imported rice from Vietnam, to arrive at the Makar wharf here by July.
He said the NFA central office has allocated a total 250,000 bags of imported rice for the province and other parts of Region 12 in the upcoming shipment.
Usman said South Cotabato will receive around 60,000 bags while the rest of the stocks will be distributed to its other field offices in the area.
By August, he said the province will get an additional 40,000 bags in another scheduled shipment for the region.
With the arrival of the additional rice stocks by next month, Usman said they are targeting to cover around 20 to 25 percent of the rice requirements of the local markets.
He said the retail price for the NFA imported rice, 15-percent broken, will remain at P22 per kilo and the 25-percent broken at P25 a kilo.
“Our primary goal is to counter the increases in the prices of our commercial rice and this scheme is very effective based on our past experiences,” he said.
Based on the regular monitoring of local agriculture offices, the retail prices of commercial rice in the area have increased by P3 to P4 per kilo in the last several weeks.
But officials said the price adjustments, which pushed premium commercial rice prices to around P42 to P44 per kilo from the previous P38 to P40, are expected due to the entry of the lean period for local rice harvests.
“Considering the trend these past years, these (price adjustments) are considered normal,” said Emelita Miguel, Koronadal City agriculture office chief.
She said they expect the commercial rice prices to stabilize when local palay harvests will begin by late July or early August.