Urbanization triggers relocation of NFA warehouses

NFA Administrator Jesus Navarro said they have to move the warehouses where the current production areas are located. He said at least 30 years after the warehouses were built, their location has to be reassessed.

Navarro told reporters at a press conference in the sidelines of the Fifth National Grains Postproduction Conference that the warehouses were located in areas considered as production areas in the past but are now highly urbanized.

Navarro illustrated that the post harvest facility run by the NFA in General Santos City, for example, is located now in front of a mall.

He said many of the warehouses are located near subdivisions, where complaints from residents against noise and other hazards of their operations. He said the complaints have affected post harvest activities inside the warehouses.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap earlier announced to conference participants the relocation of some warehouses into satellite warehouses in rural areas producing rice for accessibility.

He stressed the need to cut the wastage from rice production to half from the 15-percent current ratio.

The warehouses offer services such as drying and storage, which has to be accessible to farmers in the rural areas so they could optimize value of their production, Navarro said.

He clarified that the move was initiated during Yap's stint at the NFA before he became agriculture secretary.

The agriculture sector will present in the conference the use of biomass fuel, such as rice hull, in mechanical drying to cut the cost of post harvest services.

PhilRice director Leocadio Sebastian said the scheme could cut drying cost during the rainy season from P50 to P15. He said the cost of "highway drying" during the dry season is around P8 per bag.

The dryer could be made available to farmers to produce better quality rice at the production area via the warehouses, he said.

Navarro said they have eyed sites in the rice producing areas to locate the "satellite warehouses to offer the same services as the bigger warehouses in more urbanized areas.

He said NFA runs at least 500 warehouses nationwide, 310 of which it owns and the rest are leased, with a total capacity of 40 million bags.

The capacity of those to be relocated would be 3 to 4 million bags, he said.