MANILA, PHILIPPINES – There is no shortage of rice supplies.
This was the insurance of agricultural secretary Manny Piñol amid speculation about the supply shortage that eventually caused the price increase of rice.
"Tumaas ang presyng bigas at ang mga traders naman in response to the available harvest there, "said the secretary.
Earlier today, Piñol met stakeholders in the rice industry, including farmers, dealers and retailers, to confirm the true state of the rice supply of the country and the movement of rice prices on local markets at the moment.
Piñol said, although they insisted that there is enough rice in the country, the total buffer stock, consisting of the stored households, operating on commercial markets and those in the National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses, is enough for national consumption of only up to 45 days.
The secretary of agriculture explained that there were delays in the supply of imported rice due to harbor congestion and consecutive days of monsoon rain.
He noted that because of the speculation the price of commercial rice shot up.
In the meantime rice factories assured that there is currently no supply of stock.
"Some millers of Central Luzon, ang supply nila nanggagaling sa amin, pag bumili sila sa amin binibigyan namin sila ng palay para meron silang ma mill central sao Luzon Iyon ang actual na nangyayari sa Isabela kaya there is no hoarding," explained Ernesto Suvia from Golden Harvest Rice Mill.
For now the DA said that they trust traders and millers that the rice supply in the country is indeed sufficient.
However, the agency said they still have to validate if such a status is true.
"But I told them that the government reserves the right to validate and validation would mean inspecting their warehouses with the warning that someone will be prosecuted, and the stocks will be confiscated," Minister Piñol warned.
Meanwhile, the DA is currently considering another import of rice stocks in preparation for the possible effects of el niño that are likely to occur in the last quarter of the year. – Rey Pelayo / Marje Pelayo