The National Food Authority (NFA) is behind its palay procurement target for the year, but the agency’s chief is not worried at all since the overall demand for state-subsidized rice has been declining.

NFA Administrator Judy Dansal said in a text exchange that for this year, the NFA is targeting to buy 19.85 million bags of palay, but the agency had so far purchased only 6.11 million bags from January to July, which is only 31 percent of the target. To date, the agency’s cereal procurement fund stood at P198.28 million.

Under the liberalized regime, NFA’s sole mandate was reduced to making sure that the government has enough rice to distribute during calamities and national emergencies.

To perform this task, the agency buys locally produced palay from farmers, which it sells to local government units (LGUS) and partner agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) during a national crisis.

Right now, the present inventory level of NFA is good to last for six days, based on the Daily Consumption Requirement (DCR) of 671,280 bags per day.

But based on Average Daily Sales (ADS) at market participation of 3.86 percent, current stocks at NFA will last for 155 days.

When asked if she is comfortable with the current inventory level given that it’s already rainy season, Dansal said she believes this is enough, adding that there are enough stocks “in the hands of the private sector”.

“Harvest is already over and imported rice are starting to arrive till the end of August. Harvest will start again in September,” Dansal further said. “The volume that we have is good enough based on historical data of stocks we hold and sell during the rainy season”.

Around the same time last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic just began to affect the country’s rice production, NFA had to “rationalize” its buffer stock and has told the local government units (LGUs) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to directly buy from farmers for their COVID-19 relief efforts.

At the time, the state-run grains agency said it has already started prepositioning its rice buffer stocks across the country, especially in calamity-vulnerable areas and island provinces.

Dansal said it is no longer the case now because “the demand for government stocks, despite the pandemic, is not anymore the same as that of last year”.

“Maybe that’s because the economy is better now. Business is now as usual and funds for LGUs for the pandemic have been focused on the procurement of vaccines,” Dansal said.

Meanwhile, the country’s rice stocks inventory reached 2.44 million metric tons (MT) as of April 1, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

This represents an annual increment of 3.2 percent from its level of 2.38 million MT in the same period of the preceding year. Month-on-month, rice stocks inventory also increased by 17.5 percent from its previous month’s level of 2.08 million MT, Year-on-year, rice stocks from households rose by 17.9 percent, while it went up by 4.0 percent for commercial warehouses/wholesalers/retailers. This, while rice stocks in NFA depositories decreased by -41.9 percent.

Source: Manila Bulletin (