Various groups have criticized President Duterte for allowing the National Food Authority (NFA) to import an additional 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice to ramp up its buffer stock despite the abundance of local unmilled rice or palay.
Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), Bantay Bigas and the National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) released statements condemning the move, saying that the shipments of imported rice would coincide with the harvest season, which would be detrimental for local farmers.
“Importing another 250,000 MT will no longer be necessary as local rice supply will be available at the time of its arrival, 45 days after which is in time for the harvest season,” Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said. “The importation is very dubious as it contradicts Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s statement that the country has a 96-day buffer stock.”
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the agriculture sector was able to harvest 19.4 million MT of rice last year—a record harvest in recent years.
Amihan, on the other hand, denounced NFA’s failure to perform its mandate to procure enough local palay to stabilize rice prices. Last year, the state-run grains agency was able to buy only 19 percent of its target or 587,748 bags, while its share to the country’s total rice stock has been declining over the years.
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