NFA rolls out P39 commercial rice to address cheap rice shortage

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 16) — The National Food Authority (NFA) on Monday started rolling out commercial rice worth P39 per kilo to address the shortage of cheap rice.

NFA spokesperson Rex Estoperez said the lower-priced rice will be available at public markets in Metro Manila starting Wednesday, though some service outlets in Quezon City and Baclaran with the "Tulong sa Bayan" tarpaulin are already selling it.

Estoperez said millers and traders made the low-priced rice available after meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte last week to address the shortage of NFA rice.

"For now we have to help the farmers by buying our locally produced rice...Medyo may lugi pero for the meantime na commitment nila kay Presidente [We're selling at quite a loss for the meantime while they're committed to the President]," he said.

Estoperez also explained how they came up with the 39-peso price point.

"Kasi ang psychological effect pagpatak ng 40, mahal na yun eh, so nag-compute kami pabalik," he said.

[Translation: Because when it reaches P40, people think it's already expensive, so we computed backwards.]

The effort is a joint project of the Office of the President, the Confederation of Grains Retailers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (GRECON), the Philippine Confederation of Grains Associations and NFA.

GRECON national president James Magbanua, however, said they might limit sale of the rice to 3 kilograms per customer per day in order to stretch supplies to serve as many consumers as possible.

In the past few weeks, consumers were left with commercial rice worth at least P42 per kilo, since NFA has no stocks of cheaper rice, which sell for P27 and P32.

Estoperez said the lower-priced commercial rice will be sold in markets until NFA rice becomes available.

The NFA is finalizing the terms of reference for the importation of P250,000 metric tons of cheap rice, following orders from Duterte.