The National Food Authority (NFA) in Palawan admitted this week they are at a loss on how to comply with a recent order from the Department of Agriculture (DA) to fast-track their milling operations and dispose their rice supply to the market.
Osmundo Guinto, Jr., NFA Palawan provincial manager, said while the order was intended to enable them to quickly roll over their fund and buy more palay from farmers, they are constrained by factors beyond their control.
Recently, agriculture secretary William Dar ordered the NFA to procure more rice from farmers using funds generated from the sale of their milled rice.
Guinto said their ability to roll over their fund and buy more palay from farmers is tied to the harvest cycle and other related factors.
“Unang-una, maghihintay ka ng apat na buwan bago makapag-procure. Bago ka mag-procure kailangan nagha-harvest na ‘yong farmers and you will wait for three to four months bago ma-harvest ‘yong kanilang itinanim,” he said.
Kaya hindi mo siya pwede i-fast track. Ang pwede lang namin gawin ay lahat ng produce nila ay pwede namin bilhin. Kaya lang, may standards kami na sinusunod,” he added.
Guinto also said they could not buy inferior quality of palay as they will stock the supply procured in the warehouse.
Due to the mandate of the agency under Republic Act 11203 or Rice Liberalization Act, NFA is required to have a buffer stock in times of calamities and emergencies.
“Hindi naman na pwede na ganon yong quality, kailangan yong quality ay maganda rin kasi i-stock namin ‘yon sa bodega. Kailangan ang bibilhin ng NFA ngayon hindi kagaya dati na pwede kami bumili ng inferior qualities, ngayon hindi na pwede kasi kung titignan sa batas, ang magiging papel na lang ay buffer stocking,” he said.
He added that the NFA also follows a policy by which the agency is required to store a maximum of nine months of palay in the warehouse before milling. The rice supply will be stored for maximum of six months while brown rice and corn will be stored for maximum of three months.