PALO, Leyte — The National Food Authority has stopped selling rice in four of six Eastern Visayas due to dwindling stocks, a top official said on Tuesday.
Distribution has stopped since Friday in Leyte, Biliran, Eastern Samar, and Samar provinces after stock levels dropped significantly over the past few weeks, NFA regional manager Henry Tristeza said.
“Our current stock is only good for 1.7 days with only 57,735 bags of rice left in our warehouses as of Monday. We have to stop the distribution because we need buffer stocks as immediate response after natural calamities,” he explained.
Of the 57,735 bags left, 22,398 are stored in Southern Leyte, 13,442 in Northern Samar, 6,971 in Biliran, 6,872 in Eastern Samar, 4,432 in Leyte, and 3,620 in Samar province.
Limited releases to retailers continue in Southern Leyte and Northern Samar areas since current stocks will last three to four days based on the average daily consumption of the entire population.
However, based on cheaper rice actual average daily sales of 260 bags, Southern Leyte’s stocks will be good for 86 days. Northern Samar’s supply will last for 538 days based on the daily distribution of 25 bags.
“It is our dilemma on how we can sustain the food security requirements of poor families who can only afford to buy cheaper rice. The NFA Council has already approved the importation of 25,000 metric tons of rice, but the earliest shipment could be after 30 days,” Tristeza said.
But the agency allayed fears of a shortage noting that commercial traders and households in the region had combined stocks of nearly one million bags, enough to supply the food requirement before the harvest season.