NFA east Visayas limits rice release to retailers

PALO, Leyte — The limited supply of government rice prompted the National Food Authority (NFA) to significantly cut its weekly allocation to the region’s nearly 5,000 accredited grains retailers.

The “calibrated” allocation had been observed since January as stocks dwindled in government warehouses, said Raymond Tafalla, NFA Eastern Visayas assistant regional manager, on Wednesday.

From the usual five bags allotment for each store, the NFA reduced it to only two bags in the past few weeks. As of end of last year, the region had 4,960 accredited rice retailers who sold the staple at PHP27 and PHP32 per kilogram.

“The impact is insignificant because our share in the market is only 2 percent. You will notice that no one is lining up to buy NFA rice,” Tafalla told PNA on Wednesday.

As of Tuesday, the grains agency has a total stocks of 62,509 bags shipped to the region in December 2017.

Of the total, 6,630 bags are stored in warehouses in Leyte province; 24,498 in Southern Leyte; 7,426 in Biliran; 3,641 in Samar; 13,442 in Northern Samar; and 6,872 in Eastern Samar.

With the average of 31,220 bags daily consumption in Eastern Visayas, the supply will only last for two days. “But that is not the case because almost all of our supply are coming from commercial rice traders,” Tafalla said.

The NFA limited its daily sales from thousands of bags to only 515 bags this week due to shortage. Based on actual sales, government rice will not run out of stocks in 121 days.

“In fact, some of our warehouses in provinces have stopped selling rice since we have to keep some stocks as immediate assistance during natural calamities,” he added.

Rice retailer Evangeline Herrera who had been selling cheaper NFA rice at the city’s market for more than a decade said she stopped buying from NFA since last week.

“It’s not anymore practical to go to NFA warehouses just to get two bags a week,” Herrera shared.

She admitted that the government rice shortage had triggered price hikes.

The retailer sells commercial rice at PHP38 to PHP45 per kilogram up than the PHP37 to PHP42 per kilograms retail price for regular milled rice last month.

Tafalla, however, allayed public fears considering that commercial traders and households in the region had combined stocks of about one million bags, enough to supply the food requirement before harvest season.