GENERAL SANTOS CITY(MindaNews/16 July) — The National Food Authority (NFA) has increased its rice allocation for various markets in South Cotabato province in the wake of the drastic increase in commercial rice prices in the area since last week.
Guialudin Usman, NFA provincial manager, said Tuesday they are currently releasing an average of 200 bags of rice daily to the local markets to help stabilize the area’s rice supplies and the prices of commercial rice that already reached as high as P40 a kilo.
He said that based on their monitoring, the prices of commercial rice in the province mainly increased due to the lean palay harvest in the area.
“The demand for NFA rice is presently increasing due to the high commercial rice prices,” he said in a radio interview.
Usman said their massive rice distribution or market injection program is presently focused on the province’s top rice markets, specifically in Koronadal City and in the municipalities of Polomolok, Surallah and Lake Sebu.
He said the agency has allowed its accredited rice retailers to withdraw 10 to 20 bags of NFA rice daily to ensure the availability of lower priced rice supplies in the markets.
The NFA rice is presently sold in the local markets at P25 to P28 a kilo, depending on their variety and source or origin.
The agency’s rice products consist of imported and local rice, which are classified as well-milled, strong regular-milled, regular-milled, Iron-fortified and remilled Iron-fortified.
Eddie Non, agribusiness chief of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, said their latest monitoring showed that the prices of commercial rice in the province’s 10 towns and lone city have increased by as much as P3 per kilo since last week.
From around P37 per kilo a week ago, he said that commercial premium rice is now sold at P40 per kilo.
“The situation is quite alarming since our rice prices already breached the P40 level and the recorded price increases in just one week reached P3 to P4 per kilo,” he said.
Non said they already elevated the matter to the provincial government-led Local Price Monitoring Council for appropriate action.
Based on the NFA’s price monitoring, the average price of commercial regular-milled rice in the province is presently at P32 to P34 a kilo, while those of the well-milled rice range from P35 to P36 a kilo.
Premium rice products are sold at P37 to P40 a kilo, depending on their variety and classification.
Despite the situation, Usman allayed fears of a possible rice shortage and assured that the province has enough supplies to cope with the area’s daily rice requirement of 5,500 bags.
He said that based on their estimates, the province’s rice inventory is presently around 188,500 bags or more than enough to cover for the area’s requirements for the next 29 days.
Usman said the NFA provincial office standby rice stocks reach around 47,000 bags while the estimated inventory of commercial rice in the area reaches 44,500 bags.
Citing projections released by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, he said the area’s household rice stocks reach around 97,500 bags. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)