SouthCot gets additional 20,000 bags of rice from NFA

Pangalian Busran, NFA-South Cotabato provincial manager, said the fresh shipment is part of the more than 200,000 bags of imported rice earlier allocated by the NFA central office to the province for this year.

"The delivery to our warehouses here is currently ongoing and we're planning to immediately allocate these supplies to our accredited retailers," he told reporters this morning.

The official said they will utilize the additional imported rice for its continuing "market-injection" efforts to help stabilize the prices of commercial rice, which earlier went to up as high as P35 a kilo.

He said they decided to increase the rice allocation of their accredited rice retailers from five to eight bags a week to allow more poor residents to avail of the cheaper NFA rice.

The NFA presently maintains 183 accredited rice retailers, 125 barangay-based "Tindahan ni Gloria" outlets and three "Bigasan ni Gloria" in the province's 10 towns and lone city.

NFA rice, mostly imported stocks from Vietnam and Thailand, is presently available in the markets at P18.25 a kilo.

Busran said the agency's monitoring activities are continuing to ensure that the NFA rice is sold properly by their accredited retailers.

He warned their retailers not to engage in any fraudulent activity such as overpricing, mixing and diversion of NFA rice to avoid facing hefty penalties and possible termination of their accreditation.

"We already suspended the accreditation and rice allocations of our 24 retailers due to these violations. Until now, we have not yet lifted any of these suspensions," he said.

He said they required the erring retailers to submit written explanations regarding their violations to a local probe body formed by the agency.

"If we find their explanations unreasonable, we will not hesitate to outrightly cancel their accreditation," he said.

During the last two weeks, Busran said only one was added to the 23 recorded violations since they started intensifying their monitoring last month.

"It means that our campaign is starting to pay off. Our retailers are now more conscious and are seriously trying to avoid violating our regulations," he said.

But Busran admitted that their monitors are currently having problems dealing with retailers who mix NFA rice with commercial rice.

He cited that they could not easily detect adulterations on the NFA rice since its quality is similar to that of locally produced commercial rice.

"We're trying to counter this by conducting daily inspections on our retailers. We are even escorting the movement of our stocks from our warehouses to the outlets of our retailers to avoid these violations," he added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)