Northcot looks for rice suppliers as NFA can provide only 8,000 out of 70,000 sacks it committed

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 18 April) – The National Food Authority (NFA) in North Cotabato can only provide at least 8,000 sacks of rice for the food aid distribution program of the province of North Cotabato, instead of the 70,000 sacks it initially committed, the head of the Provincial Disaster Risk and Reduction Management (PDRMM) said.

PDRRM chief Mercy Foronda said the NFA management has just sent a letter informing them that they could  only provide 8,000 sacks of rice, way below their initial commitment of 70,000 sacks.

A sack of NFA rice is sold at 1,250 pesos.

The stocks are only 10 percent of the number of sacks the provincial government needs to  supply the 400,000 poor households in North Cotabato affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The province has 17 towns and one city.

Aside from the NFA rice, local millers have committed some 14,500 sacks of rice for the provincial government’s rice distribution program, according to Foronda.  A sack of commercial rice costs 2,200 pesos.

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

The total number of NFA rice and those from local millers is 22,500 sacks or  just about a third of 70,000 sacks.  The provincial government is still looking for other suppliers.

Foronda disclosed that some local millers were hesitant to supply them with rice due to delays in payment.

“Abi nila’g utangon nato ang stocks.  Dili na siya utangon. Mubayad ta. (They thought we would pay later. This is not a loan. We will pay,” North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco said in her radio and TV program, “Masaganang North Cotabato” on Thursday.

The provincial government intends to give 10 kilos of rice per family.

Foronda said the amount they need for the rice subsidy is P112 million.  The proposed amount will be submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for their approval during its regular session on Tuesday.

Catamco said they will prioritize in its rice subsidy program tricycle drivers, ‘habal-habal’ drivers, rubber tappers, ambulant vendors, and minimum wage earners whose establishments had been ordered closed due to the ECQ.

For 2020, the DRRM fund in North Cotabato is 155.87 million pesos and Quick Response Fund is  46 million pesos. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)