By Manny Piñol
The greedy rice cartels are operating again by using the tested and proven scare tactics of a “rice shortage” to justify the increase of prices in the market and to pressure government into allowing more imported rice to be brought into the country.
This time, however, their gimmick will not work with this administration.
As early as three weeks ago, I already had the suspicion that there was a conspiracy to launch a media propaganda about a “rice shortage” which I knew was intended to create panic.
I suspected that the plan was to use the “rice shortage” propaganda as an excuse to increase the price rice in the market and allow importation.
Rice importation has always been a lucrative business for several big traders, including several people in government in the past.
It was in Mawab, Compostela Valley in an activity with President Rody Duterte when I was asked whether it was true that there was an impending rice shortage.
“How can there be a rice shortage? We just had a record harvest of 19.4-Million Metric Tons in 2017,” I answered back.
Just the same, I asked the Fields Operations Office of the Department of Agriculture to submit to me our own inventory of available rice stocks in the country.
Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan reported the estimated buffer stock by the end of the First Quarter of 2018 was placed at 3-Million Metric Tons, enough to supply the daily consumption of 31,450 Metric Tons per day for 96 days.
The 96-day buffer stock is one of the biggest rice inventories of the country in recent years and this was the result of a bumper harvest of 19.4-Million Metric Tons for 2017, a record harvest for the country.
By the end of 2017, rice stocks in warehouses and home storages were placed at 2.7-Million Metric Tons which would be good for 88 days of supply.
In the First Quarter of 2018, the Production Forecast is placed at 3.067 of milled rice which when added to the buffer rice stocks carried over from 2017, would place the First Quarter Rice Supply at 5.8-Million Metric Tons.
I also checked with farmers’ groups and was informed by farmer leader Danilo Bolos of Nueva Ecija that warehouses are brimming with rice stocks even as the First Quarter Harvest has started.
“Totoo po yan!! Sana po maniwala kayo ke sec Manny!!! Kami po mga magsasaka Ng nueva ecija MISMO Ang nagbabantay patungkol sa buffer stock Ng bigas marami po tayong palay ngayon sa kadahilanang nag uumpisa npo Ang anihan sa gawing tarlac at pangasinan at maging dito poo sa nueva ecija umaani na din po Ang mga rainfed area natin Kaya huwag po kayong maniwala sa mga fake news Ng mga rice importer, samin po kayo maniwala mga lehitimong magsasaka po kami,” Bolos said in his comment posted in my Facebook page.
True enough, a few days later, news reports about increasing prices of rice in the market and “rice shortage” started popping out in the media.
In the face of this brazen attempt to mislead the policy makers of this country simply because of greed for money, I am recommending that an actual inspection of all rice warehouses in the country be conducted by the proper government agencies.
This is the best counter-attack to the attempt to sow panic among consumers by spreading the fake news that there is a rice shortage.
It is also recommended that the proper government agencies should make rounds of the markets to ensure that rice is not priced unreasonably.
#HindiUubraAngGimik! #KumitaNaYan! #BuwaginAngCartel!