TACLOBAN CITY—The Eastern Visayas regional office of the National Food Authority (NFA) has suspended selling rice to its accredited retailers due to diminishing rice stocks.
NFA regional director Henry Tristeza said there is now a “very limited” supply of rice, prompting the local NFA office to stop replenishing the supply of its some 5,000 accredited retailers and reserve the remaining rice stocks to government relief agencies and local government units.
Tristeza said that, as of last Friday, rice stocks in different warehouses in the six provinces of Eastern Visayas was only 52,000 cavans, which is equivalent to 1.7 days of regional consumption.
He added that industry stocks for the whole region is good for 38 days, which is expected to be replenished on the third week of March when the harvest season starts.
“What we need is food-security stock at least for eight days, or a minimum of 240,000 bags,” he told the BusinessMirror.
Only a handful retail stores are now selling NFA rice, which sells at P27 to P32 a kilo, a lot lower that the commercial rice that sells at P40 to P50 a kilo.
“This is a big dent on our budget,” says Rowena Cariaso, a fish vendor in a Tacloban’s flea market and a mother of eight children. She said that her family of ten consumes at least 2 kilos of rice a day.
“We have tried many stores already, but we cannot find NFA rice,” she said. The last time she was able to buy NFA rice was Monday last week, with 10 kilos that lasted only for four days. “We allot an additional P40 a day to our budget on rice, which is equivalent to half of what our daughter gets as her daily allowance,” she added.
Tristeza said that, as much as they want to accommodate marginalized families in their remaining rice stocks, he said that it may not be enough.
Adding pressure to NFA’s rice stocks is the number of typhoons passing through the region, which has become more frequent in recent years. Last week many parts of Eastern Visayas were flooded due to typhoon Basyang, which left at least four people dead in the region.
“It is our problem on how to sustain the food-security needs of poor families who can only afford to buy cheaper rice,” Tristeza said.