Defend Philippine Rice

Farmers, consumers and various organizations’ PROTEST ACTION VS. Duterte’s band-aid solution on NFA’s DEPLETED RICE STOCKS, PRICE HIKE & IMPORTATION
Amihan Women Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) Kadamay Pam Pil Sinagbayan Nasyunal


NFA creating fake rice shortage, says Cabinet secretary
By: Karl R. Ocampo, Leila B. Salaverria – @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:02 AM April 05, 2018

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco on Wednesday accused the National Food Authority (NFA) of creating an “artificial” rice shortage, as its buffer stock of the staple had dwindled to just 200,000 bags, good for less than a day’s supply for the entire country.

But the NFA said the supply shortage was “real.”

A report from the agency showed that its rice reserves were already down to zero, while NFA rice on the market was expected to last for less than a half day.

Evasco, who chairs the NFA Council, an 18-member policymaking body, said there was enough rice in the country.

More imported rice, according to him, is arriving in May, but the NFA is trying to create a shortage that it wants to pin down on the council.

The NFA manages only 4 to 5 percent of the rice delivered to the market. Its buffer stock, which is earmarked for emergencies and is supposed to be enough for 15 days, is now enough only for less than a day, Evasco said.

He said the NFA statement that its rice reserves had been wiped out could prompt rice traders to hold their supply to wait for higher prices.

“They create the artificial shortage and pin it on the council, that we are responsible for creating the shortage, when in fact, based on a report of the Department of Agriculture, there is so much rice,” Evasco said in a press briefing.

Meeting with traders

President Duterte is set to meet with rice traders—who are in a position to manipulate supply—to seek their cooperation and preempt hoarding.

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The National Food Authority warehouse in Quezon City is empty, except for some remaining sacks of rice, while commercial rice varieties are sold in abundance at a stall in Trabajo Market in Manila. Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco maintains that there is enough of the staple food in the country, with more imported rice arriving in May. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE AND RICHARD A. REYES