By Manny Piñol
The scare tactics will not stand a chance against statistics.
Contrary to reports that there is a looming rice shortage because the Natonal Food Authority (NFA) has not brought in imported rice, there is actually a huge inventory of locally harvested rice.
The Department of Agriculture’s Field Operations head Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the estimated buffer stocks by the end of the First Quarter of 2018 is placed at 3-Million Metric Tons which would be 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, the DA Field Operations Office reported.
From January to March this year or a period of 90 days, the national rice consumption is estimated at 2.8-M Metric Tons, meaning that with the projected harvest of 3.067-M Metric Tons for the First Quarter would push the country’s buffer stocks inventory to 3.004-M MT which is good for 96 days.
Today, during an impromptu press briefing with reporters covering the Agriculture Beat, I explained that the “rice shortage” in media reports actually referred to the inventory of the National Food Authority (NFA) which they infuse into the market to stabilise the price of commercial rice.
The selling price of NFA rice ranges from P27 to P32 per kilo while commercial rice sells between P45 to P60 per kilo.
The NFA needs to bring in the imported rice because private rice traders have inconsiderately priced commercial rice at a level which hurts ordinary consumers.
The Department of Agriculture does not oppose the importation by NFA of rice stocks to stabilise the price in the market but at the same time calls on the price regulatory bodies of government to check on the uncontrolled pricing of commercial rice in the market.
Rice traders who make money from importing rice, however, are trying to scare government policy makers by making it appear that there is a rice shortage, to justify the entry of additional imported rice.
It would also serve as a convenient excuse to increase the selling price of rice in the market which hurts Filipino consumers.