No more NFA rice in local markets if tariffication pushes through – Sec. Piñol

Marje Pelayo   •   December 18, 2018   •   3598

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – The lowest price of rice in local markets today can be bought at P27 to P32 pesos per kilogram, the cheapest price that the National Food Authority (NFA) can offer.

But according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, once the Rice Tariffication Bill is enacted into law, the NFA would have no choice but to buy rice from the local farmers instead of pushing for rice importation.

Piñol explains that the proposed legislature will remove NFA’s regulatory and importation functions and will only serve as keeper of the buffer stocks from domestic farmers for use in time of calamities and other emergencies.

This means that the low-priced NFA rice will no longer be available in the market.

‘One thing is certain. There will be no more P27 rice. Hindi rin sigurado kung magkakaroon pa ng continuous na pagbebenta ng NFA rice sa merkado because the role of the NFA now in the proposed act that will be signed by the President is that of a buffer stocking agency,” Piñol said.

The proposed act will also lift import restrictions on commercial rice and will only allow certain amount of tariff or duties.

Piñol noted that should the agency be allowed to supply rice in markets after the passage of the bill, they can only provide rice for P35 to P36 pesos per kilogram.

Piñol assures, however, that the current stock of NFA’s imported rice is still enough for the next three months.

The Agriculture Secretary added that the government has allocated P10-B peso annual budget intended for farmers’ subsidy to help them minimize production costs while they increase their yield.

The budget also covers free seed and use of agriculture equipment.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) assures to carry on with the implementation of suggested retail price (SRP) on rice under the Price Act to prevent price increase.

Piñol stressed, however, that the government might still incur income losses should it decide to pursue with the rice subsidy plan.

‘Kung P20.70 (per kilo) ang bili namin ng bigas (palay) hindi pwedeng ibenta namin ng P27. Kung ayaw nilang magpalugi. Pero the national government can still tell the NFA: “Ok. Magpalugi kayo. Bilhin ninyo ng P20.70 (per kilo) (at) ibenta ninyo ng P27 (pesos). I-subsidize namin ang remaining (cost).” That could still be possible,” the Secretary concluded.

Meanwhile, comsumer group ‘Laban Konsyumer’ president Atty. Vic Dimagiba believes that it is untimely to remove the NFA rice in local markets considering that 30% of the country’s population consumes the said low-priced staple apart from the possible rise in inflation.

He calls the proposed rice tariffication act is anti-poor therefore, the President should reconsider before signing it.

‘Di pa panahon . Lalong sisipa ang inflation sa pagkain . Yun 30 pct poor consumers na pumipila sa nfa rice na 27 at 32 a kilo naagrabyado na naman. We made that statement in a senate hearing. Anti poor yan desisyon. Dapat pigilan ng Pangulo,’ Dimagiba argued.

As of press time, the bill is just awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

CamSur, Quezon provinces declare state of calamity in ‘Tisoy’ aftermath

Marje Pelayo   •   December 5, 2019

Villagers walk next to a fallen tree in Naga City, Camarines Sur province, Philippines, 03 December 2019.  EPA-EFE/JONNEL MARIBOJOC

CAMARINES SUR, Philippines – The onslaught of Typhoon Tisoy has left more than P257-million worth of damage in agriculture in the province.

This has prompted the provincial government of Camarines Sur to place the province under a state of calamity.

According to the assessment of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), a total of 9,382 farmers suffered huge losses or considered economically displaced due to the typhoon.

Meanwhile, about 9,259.56 hectares of palay were also damaged.

Gil Dialiano Jr. was among those affected farmers who lament over their loss after the typhoon submerged their entire farmland.

This added to the burden of slumping prices of rice in the market, he said.

“Umani nga pero lugi naman dahil mura ang palay,” he said.

“Inabot ng baha kaya luging lugi talaga,” he added.

Overall, Typhoon Tisoy left more than P257-million worth of damage to the province’s agriculture.

“Ang dahilan po nito, ang damages po ng Camarines Sur na na-incur pagdating sa flooding, pagdating po sa damage houses, pagdating sa agriculture most especially” noted PDRRMC-CamSur Spokesperson Estel Estropia.

Similarly, the provincial government of Quezon also declared a state of calamity following the typhoon.

Such a declaration will allow local governments to utilize their respective calamity funds for the rehabilitation of the affected places.

Based on initial assessment, damage to agriculture in the entire province of Quezon has hit more than a billion pesos worth in the aftermath of the typhoon.

“Ang mga nasa vegetative stage, flowering stage at ang iba naman ay harvesting stage na ay dumapa at naapektuhan,” noted Quezon Province provincial administrator Roberto Gajo.

So far, authorities are still completing the damage assessment in infrastructures in the province.

Quezon province recorded two casualties from the onset of Typhoon Tisoy. – MNP (with inputs from Nel Maribojoc / Japhet Cablaida)

NFA to reduce rice prices for retailers, gov’t agencies

Marje Pelayo   •   October 28, 2019

Filipino workers carry sacks of government-subsidized rice (NFA Rice) into a store selling various rice brands at a market in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 04 October 2018. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Retailers and government agencies may now purchase rice from the National Food Authority (NFA) at a reduced price of P25/kg, instead of P27/kg.

Such measure aims at expediting the disposal of NFA’s current buffer stocks, said DA Secretary William Dar.

“Para mas magaan, mas mabilis ang paglabas ng mga imported rice stocks [of the] National Food Authority,” he said.

Agencies which can avail the reduced price of NFA rice include the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Bureau of Corrections (Bucor), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and local government units (LGUs).

Meanwhile, retailers may also get an even lower price per kilogram of NFA rice at P23 instead of P25/kg.

However, this will still be sold to end-consumers at P27/kg thus retailers will be able to gain P200 higher profit for each sack of rice.

Rice retailer Teresita Terado said the disposal of NFA rice still depends on consumer preference.

“Ang taong-bayan naman ang bibili nyan, hindi naman kami. Kahit i-push namin siya kung hindi naman siya mabenta, (It’s the consumers who buy [the NFA rice] not us. We can’t push them to buy it if they don’t want to),” Terado, a rice retailer at Commonwealth Market, said.

But Teresita said there is not much difference between regular commercial rice and NFA rice when it comes to quality.

Consumer group Laban Konsyumer criticized the government’s economic managers for rejecting their proposal, which according to the group’s president Atty. Vic Dimagiba, led to the current state of NFA rice in the country.

“Our proposal was ignored because the economic managers believe then that the imported rice will bring down prices to 32 pesos a kilogram. That didn’t happen,” Dimagiba said.

“What’s happening now is a sort of deja vu. Cramming and bringing back NFA to the market actively,” he added.

Based on the NFA’s October 17 data, there are still 2.5 million sacks of imported rice for disposal in the agency’s warehouses.

Such imported rice shipment was last contracted in December 2018 and its delivery was completed in February 2019. — MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

Marje Pelayo   •   July 19, 2019

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

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