Duterte orders NFA to increase rice buffer stock

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According to Cabinet Secretary and NFA Council Chairman Jun Evasco, the buffer stock of cheap rice has gone down to 0.35 of a day, much lower than the initial 15-day mandatory requirement.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered the National Food Authority (NFA) to increase its rice buffer stock from the current 15 days to 60 days, according Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol.

In a Facebook post, Piñol said Duterte ordered Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez to aid in funds to procure more rice, as the President wants the NFA warehouses "filled to the roof."

"Buy from the Filipino farmers first and if you could not find sufficient stocks to be bought at the price approved by the NFA Council, that's the time you source it through importation," the President said, according to Piñol's post.

Piñol added the President also ordered the NFA to increase its buying price of local palay. The agency, according to the Agriculture Chief, buys rice "clean and dry" with 14 percent moisture content from farmers at ₱17 per kilo but lately, the NFA said it could hardly buy locally because the buying price of private traders of fresh rice at 18 percent moisture content ranges from ₱18 to ₱25 per kilo.

The DA and the NFA have agreed to joint efforts for the procurement of local palay, through identifying provinces where the buying price of palay is relatively low.

"The DA will also offer incentives to farmers by providing drying facilities for free in NFA Buying Stations, loans for cooperatives and associations who will sell their produce to NFA and free tractors, harvesters and other farm equipment to associations who could deliver a certain volume of rice to NFA," Piñol said in the post.

The food agency on Monday started rolling out commercial rice worth ₱39 per kilo to address the shortage of cheap rice in the past few weeks, where commercial rice cost at least ₱42 per kilo.