NFA-Bicol reports 4-day buffer stock of rice in warehouses

An official of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Bicol said it has less than 146,000 bags of rice, which is equivalent to four days of buffer stock, already distributed to warehouses located in the six provinces of the region.

Beth Jacob, regional information officer of NFA in Bicol, said Albay has the biggest stock with 36,733 bags, followed by Camarines Sur-33,187 bags, Sorsogon-29,719 bags, Masbate-17,370, Camarines Norte-16,874 and Catanduanes with 12,097 bags or a total of 145,980 bags of rice for the entire region.

She said the estimated daily consumption of rice of over five million Bicolanos is 39,640 bags so the buffer stocks available in the NFA warehouses would not be enough in the coming days, especially if a calamity would strike the region.

"We just pray and hope that no calamity will hit our region," said Jacob.

She said this would be the first time that Bicol would experience having only four days of buffer stock in its warehouses.

Jacob added this was also the first time that no importation had been made by the government from January this year up to the present.

She said NFA-Bicol has estimated the rice consumption requirement of Bicolanos at 1,189,200 bags of rice per month, equivalent to the one-month buffer stock of NFA for the commodity.

Jacob said there were more than 15,000 Bicolanos who were regular rice buyers of NFA rice in the markets.

The province with the biggest consumption of NFA rice is Camarines Sur which has 4,877 regular buyers, followed by Catanduanes-3,065, Masbate-2,665, Camarines Norte-1,330, Sorsogon-1,277 and Albay-1,036.

Some farmers from Catanduanes urged NFA Administrator Jason Aquino, who had made a three-day field inspection last week in Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte, to add more allocation of NFA rice in their province to meet their needs.

Jacob said that although Catanduanes has the lowest population in the region it was the second most dependent province on NFA rice in the region.

“Its local farmers have low production of rice because of its geographical location with most of the residents relying on fishing and abaca stripping for livelihood,” she said.

Jacob also admitted that they had found difficulty buying palay from the local farmers because they could not match the price given by the rice traders who buy rice from farmers at PHP18.19 to PHP19.70 per kilo.

She said NFA would buys at PHP17 directly from local farmers and PHP17.50 from farmers’ cooperatives. (Jorge Hallare/PNA)