NFA boosts rice supply in SouthCot as price of commercial rice rises

Pangalian Busran, NFA-South Cotabato provincial manager, said they have authorized their accredited rice retailers and outlets to request for additional allocation to help stabilize rice supplies and prices in the local markets.

"We have started our market injection in some key populated areas. It's now ongoing in Polomolok and we're now finalizing the groupings and withdrawal schedule of the retailers and outlets in Koronadal City," he said in a radio interview.

Busran assured that the agency currently has enough buffer rice stocks as a result of their intensified palay buying during the harvest season in the second half of last year and the delivery of additional imported rice stocks from Thailand and Vietnam.

According to an advisory released this morning by the NFA, the price of its well-milled imported rice has remained at P18.25 per kilo while its commercial grade rice are sold at P25 a kilo.

Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato agriculturist, said their latest market monitoring showed that commercial rice prices have increased byP4 to P5 per kilo since last month.

He said the average price of commercial rice has soared to P29 per kilo from P25 per kilo last December while the premium rice varieties have already reached to as high as P32 a kilo.

Legaste said among the reasons that triggered the increase in rice price was the declining supply of commercial rice in the markets as claimed by rice traders.

He admitted that the projected palay area that will be harvested this month has dropped to about 2,500 hectares from the 4,500 hectares in January.

But he said they expect a major turnaround by March when the harvests for the projected 10,000 hectares of palay area will begin.

"We consider the present rice price increases as temporary and the situation will likely stabilize by next month," Legaste said.

Concerned with the increasing rice prices, South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes directed the NFA and the local agriculture offices to conduct a regular monitoring on the prices of commercial rice in the local markets and palay buying prices.

"We will check whether the price increases are reasonable and if the buying prices of palay also increased along with it," she said. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)