NFA Council: Duterte orders importation of standby rice order

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 9) — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice, on top of the shipment arriving at the end of this month.

"Mayroong verbal instruction si Presidente na i-activate na yung 250,000 metric tons on standby," said National Food Authority (NFA) Council chair Jun Evasco in a Thursday interview.

[Translation: The President gave a verbal instruction to activate the 250,000 metric tons on standby.]

The move came after NFA Administrator Jason Aquino said on Wednesday that the agency had a "very low" inventory of NFA rice, which caters to around eight to 10 million lower-income Filipinos.

Read: NFA: Low supply of affordable rice, but no rice shortage in PH

As a result, Aquino said the masses will be forced to buy commercial rice – the price of which has already increased due to the lack of supply.

NFA rice is at ₱27 to ₱32 a kilo, while commercial rice costs ₱36 to ₱65 a kilo.

That same day, Evasco allayed fears of a shortage, saying that 325,000 metric tons of rice will arrive by end-February.

Read: NFA Council: No need to panic, rice supply is coming

Evasco said on Thursday that the NFA Council, which is the agency's top policy-making body, will meet on Monday to discuss how to procure the rice.

"Marami naman tayong [We have many] options," he said. "First option is government-to-government. Second option is government to private traders from outside. Third option is let our traders purchase this rice from outside."