By NE ALCANTARA
LEGAZPI CITY — The National Food Authority (NFA) Bicol regional office said that there is no overstocking or over importation of rice in Bicol for the current year.
NFA Bicol Director Edgar S. Bentulan said the region’s annual rice production is 13,111,387 bags and its annual consumption requirement based on the latest inter-agency survey is 17,052,800 bags, resulting in a deficit of 3,941,413 bags.
This year, NFA’s import arrivals totaled 3,300,000 bags. From this figure, Bicol is still short by 641,413 bags, Bentulan said.
He said this shortage should have been absorbed by the private sector. Recently, however, local rice traders have not been so active in buying palay from farmers as can be seen in the unprecedented high palay procurement intake of NFA of 865,000 bags from January to July.
But miller-traders from other nearby regions came to Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, and Sorsogon to buy palay during the harvest season.
“If there is so much rice in the market owing to inflows from outside sources, even from private importation vis-à-vis strong NFA inventory, we should even welcome this as a no letting-up preparation of the government against typhoons, heavy rains, floods, and volcanic eruptions,” the NFA official said.
Our region is critically in the road map of natural disasters, hence, we cannot leave the food security of our people weak and in limbo, Bentulan said, as he pointed out that rice importation is not a handiwork of NFA.
The decision to buy rice from other countries is coursed through an inter-agency committee composed of DA, PAG-ASA, DTI, NEDA, BAS, PAFP, DBM and NFA. Then thus is further evaluated by the NFA Council headed by DA as chairman, and members NFA, DOF, Bangko Central, DBP, LBP, PNB and Office of the President.
Final approval is done by the concurrence of the country’s economic managers composed of cabinet secretaries.