IN impoverished Philippines, the availability of enough government-subsidized rice in the market helps a lot in bringing down the price of the grain, particularly during hard times.
That’s why it is certainly reassuring to know that there will be enough supply of National Food Authority (NFA) rice not only in the metropolis but throughout the country next year.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Pinol, a former newspaperman and one-time governor of North Cotabato, said that this is the assurance made by the food agency.
In fact, there will be no repeat of this year’s mistake when the NFA rice stocks sold at P27 per kilo were depleted, sending rice prices soaring, according to Secretary Pinol.
The NFA has established a stock inventory of 750,000 metric tons of imported rice which will ensure an eight-month supply of state-subsidized rice at 10 percent market participation.
There’s also the P7-billion worth of palay which will be procured by the NFA from local farmers.
Early this year, prices of commercial rice rose to unprecedented levels after NFA rice stalls ran out of stocks, drawing the ire of consumers, particularly the poorest of the poor.
President Duterte had to step in and talk to the country’s rice traders to help stabilize the prices in the market. Likewise, he directed the NFA to import rice using the fastest mode.
In a country teeming with erring and heartless traders, Filipino consumers are usually victimized by hoarders, speculators and profiteers, who have absolutely no moral scruples.
The government, through concerned offices and agencies, ought to give flesh to its pro-poor agenda by ensuring the availability of low-priced rice and other food products in the market.
Let’s help unburden the people from the problem of high-priced basic commodities.