NFA acts on possible rice hoarding in Negros Occidental

BACOLOD CITY — The National Food Authority (NFA) is implementing measures to prevent rice hoarding in Negros Occidental especially during the lean months from June to August.

Marianito Bejemino, provincial manager of NFA-Negros Occidental, said Friday that during the lean months, or a period of no harvest especially of palay, consumers may have the tendency to buy rice more than their normal consumption requirement.

Bejemino said this activity creates an artificial shortage of rice supply in the market, which may also result in higher prices of the commodity.

“We are assuring the consumers that we have enough rice supply as reflected in our high inventory thus, there is no need for them to store huge amount of household stocks amid the approaching lean period,” he added.

Latest inventory of NFA-Negros Occidental showed that there are currently at least two million bags of available rice in the province.

Given the province’s daily consumption requirement of 21,800 bags, the total inventory could still last for the next 90 days, or until August.

The inventory is on top of the additional inflows, including the 180,000 bags of NFA rice from Iloilo.

For sugarcane farmers, lean period is also a “dead season” as there are no milling activities during these months, from the later part of June towards September.

To ensure that lesser supply during lean months will not be exploited by commercial traders and even by NFA rice retailers through hoarding, the NFA has been doing counter measures like regular monitoring and inspection of warehouses.

Bejemino said a team composed of inspectors, investigators, and enumerators also conducts monitoring among rice outlets and households aside from rice mills.

He added that they are regularly coming up with total inventory of rice sector to ensure balance between supply and demand.

“Those found hoarding rice will face corresponding penalties and sanctions as provided under Presidential Decree No. 4,” Bejemino said, adding that the order also prohibits diversion and adulteration of the commodity.

Adulteration is the practice of mixing NFA to commercial rice and selling it as the latter while diversion is selling the former as wholesale instead of bringing it to retail outlets.

The NFA may revoke the license and permit of erring retailers. The government may also crackdown and stop the operation of violating commercial traders, Bejemino warned. Erwin P. Nicavera/