Looking Into Rice Importation
IN THE PHILIPPINES, few things are more important than rice, the supply and the cost of this basic food staple, which if not included in a meal, most Filipinos feel as though they had not eaten.
The Philippines is the ninth largest producer of rice in the world but the government imports rice from countries like Vietnam, Thailand and India. The reason – it is cheaper. The importation is done from government to government (G2G). Recently, an order was approved permitting the country to import rice from foreign private manufacturers or government to private scheme (G2P).
CMFR lauds the efforts of 24 Oras for explaining the G2P scheme in lieu of the looming deficit of rice supply of the National Food Authority (NFA).
In several reports on May 16 and 17, 24 Oras discussed the G2P importation scheme to supplement the NFA supply. The NFA has only an eight-day buffer stock left, which is below the normal 15-day requirement. While there is no shortage of rice in the market and the local harvest was 12 percent more than it was last year, it is important to have sufficient NFA supply.
The GMA report explained how the buffer supply can affect the price of rice in the market. When private local traders raise their prices, the NFA can counter this by increasing the supply of cheaper rice in the market. This will stabilize the cost of rice.
Comparing G2P to G2G importation, Cabinet Secretary and NFA Council Chairman Leoncio Evasco said that G2P is more competitive, transparent and less corrupt. According to 24 Oras, G2G takes 18 days to process while G2P takes 28 days excluding the shipment of the supply. The import may not reach the NFA warehouse before the supply runs out.
The news program also brought up the dismissal of former undersecretary Halmen Valdez. President Rodrigo Duterte fired Valdez on April 5, reportedly for signing papers allowing private traders to import rice. When Evasco was asked about it, the NFAC chairman said that it was a different story.
The government rice importation is a multifaceted process that can affect everyone. Especially the poor. 24 Oras started a good discussion that needs a follow through as the process may impact on how — or even what — the average Filipino eats.