Millers in North Cotabato say they have limited rice supply

A worker piles sacks of milled rice inside the warehouse of the Sta Catalina Multipurpose Cooperative, the biggest cooperative in North Cotabato with over 4,000 members. MindaNews file photo by JULES L. BENITEZ

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 17 April) – Millers in North Cotabato on Wednesday said they have limited rice supply because fewer farmers were planting palay.

Governor Nancy Catamco met with millers on Wednesday to check if their current stocks could sustain local needs while the province is still under the enhanced community quarantine due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Catamco said she also wanted to know if the millers could provide the provincial government the rice for its relief distribution program.

The province was set to provide at least 10 kilos of quality rice to 400,000 poor households in North Cotabato.

Aside from limited supply, the millers also said they are hesitant to transact with government due to delayed payments which could take months.

The governor, however, assured that funds are available for the relief operations.

The provincial government needs at least 40,000 bags of rice for the affected households.

According to Mercy Foronda of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PDRRM), the National Food Authority (NFA) could only provide the province 14,500 bags but at a higher price.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a bag of NFA rice was sold at P1,200.

“But at this time, a bag of NFA rice is sold at P2,100,” said Foronda.

The rest of the stocks would be taken from local millers from Kabacan, M’lang, Midsayap, and other rice producing towns in the province.

Funds for the rice subsidy would be taken from the PDRRM fund, Foronda said.

For 2020, the provincial government allotted P105 million for DRRM, and at least P46million for the Quick Response Fund. (Malu Cadeliña-Manar/MindaNews)