MANILA – The Department of Agriculture is urging the Department of Trade and Industry to step in and put a cap on rice prices in the market.
This is to prevent a hike in commercial rice prices, as the National Food Authority (NFA) stops the distribution of NFA rice in markets nationwide.
Currently, the NFA buffer stock can last for two days and will be allotted to calamity-prone areas.
Despite this, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said the shortage of rice is limited to the NFA buffer stock alone.
Current DA data show there are still 3 million metric tons of rice available nationwide, which is good for 96 days.
“I have nothing against importation; if it’s for NFA rice supply buffer stock, it’s okay,” Piñol said.
“Ang sinasabi nilang shortage ng NFA buffer stocks, yung ating suplay ng bigas 3 milyon (metric tons) pa ang available; ang di nagagamit good for 96 days. There is no reason to panic because we’re expecting another harvest,” he explained.
“The DTI should come in and really put a cap on the price of rice in the market; alam natin [we know the] rule of thumb: buying price X 2 should be the price of rice in the market,” said the DA chief.
Last week, Sen. Nancy Binay had called out the NFA over the field reports indicating that NFA rice – which ordinary, budget-conscious households rely on – was fast disappearing from the market, and that the buffer stock policy was no longer being followed.
Her fellow senator, Cynthia Villar who chairs the Agriculture committee, said Monday she was prepared to spearhead an investigation into the matter on indications that some unscrupulous rice players were behind an “artificial” shortage in order to jack up prices.