Around 288,000 bags of unhusked rice are set to be milled by the National Food Authority (NFA) Palawan to continuously supply the demand of the province for its residents amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Provincial manager Osmundo Guinto Jr. said Friday that the bags of palay are expected to yield 180,000 bags of rice. with 63 percent milling recovery.
“Ang bigas ay hindi nagtatagal sa bodega. Pagka-deliver ng millers natin, ini-issue na agad sa local government units (LGUs) natin. Kung magiging bigas siguro mga 170,000 na bigas pero hindi naman yon sa isang milling. Siguro it will take two or three months bago magiling lahat,” he said.
Guinto also said that there is an average of 700 to 1,000 sacks of rice left in the warehouse every day. He also said that after the bags of rice are delivered to NFA, these supplies are immediately sent to the LGUs.
“Walang natitigil sa amin na bigas kasi katulad nito na may nag-deliver ng 500 o 1,000 tapos may kukuha na rin agad ng 1,000. Come and go,” he said.
Guinto explained that if all 288,000 bags of palay would be milled, rice supply will be sufficient enough with a surplus to cover the needs of the entire province.
However, he said that milling takes time before it would be supplied as rice bags.
“Kung kaagad-agad ay gugustuhin nila magkaroon ng bigas ay di namin magagawa yon. Pero kung kaya nila maghintay ng turn over ng giling ng mga rice mills, tingin ko ay sufficient kasi sa 180,000 bags ng palay kung mako-convert lang yong 288,000 na palay ay sobra-sobra pa sa pangangailangan ng probinsya ng Palawan,” he said.
Due to urgency of needs during ECQ time, some who purchased from them want the supply of rice immediately.
“Kaya lang yong iba gusto nila na agad-agad ay may bigas sila. Doon namin sila itinuturo sa commercial na kasi di naman ganoon kabilis na maging bigas agad yong palay, syempre may proseso yan,” he said.
He said that the NFA is facing a challenge in buying palay from the local farmers due to rules implemented under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“Malaki, unang-una ay yong mga bodegero namin sa malalayong lugar ay hindi basta-basta makapunta doon kasi unang-una ay maraming guidelines ng ECQ, kailangan dalawa lang ang pasahero sa isang sasakyan. Syempre issng team yan, dapat apat yan hanggang lima,” he said.
He said that the limited activity and number of persons allowed affects the speed of procurement.
Guinto said that NFA Palawan only allows a limit of 2,000 bags of rice per procurement of local government units (LGUs) from their agency.
“Ang threshold ko kasi ay hanggang 2,000 lang, ibig sabihin kung lalagpas doon ay regional na ang mag-decide o mag-authorize,” he said.
The bags of rice delivered at their warehouse of NFA Palawan were prioritized based on the purchase request of island towns due to its distance.
“One of the priorities na ginagawa namin ay yong island municipalities kasi syempre alam mo kung gaano kalayo yan at yong pangangailangan nila kasi wala naman sila makuha na supply ng pagkain, kapag dumating dito pina-prioritize ang island towns,” he said.
He said that NFA has now nine millers to support the immediate delivery of rice supplies to their provincial warehouse. Guinto said that this measure is to ensure that continuous supply will arrive for the demands of different towns.
“Unang-una dapat marami kaming millers, ngayon marami kaming millers, may pitong nagti-test mill at dalawang contracted millers. Nasa siyam ang nagmi-mill sa amin ngayon,” he said.
He also asked that the mobility of their operation should not be hampered so it would not slow the process of procurement by the NFA.
“Pangalawa ay yong mobility dapat ng mga empleyado namin ay dapat di ma-hamper ng checkpoints. Kasi kapag iha-hamper nila yong mobility namin ay kulang kami ng tao, pag kulang kami ng tao di ganon kabilis yong turn over ng stocks namin,” he added.