The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) is urging the Marcos Jr. administration to revise and expand the charter of the National Food Authority (NFA) and allow it to procure, manage and distribute key food items nationwide.
PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said one of key recommendations to Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. is to push for the revision of the NFA’s current charter.
Fausto said the present NFA has been reduced to a “National Rice Authority,” a consequence of the rice trade liberalization (RTL) law that liberalized and deregulated the country’s rice trade regime.
Under the RTL law, the NFA has been watered down to rice buffer stocking agency. In the course of it, the NFA has lost the mandate to even procure corn from local farmers and hold a buffer stock for such a commodity, he said.
“It should be buffer stocking all basic commodities: onion, sugar. What is important is that in times of shortage, the NFA is ready to come in,” Fausto said in a recent press briefing.
“It is the National Food Authority and not National Rice Authority.”
With PCAFI’s proposal, Fausto said the budget of the NFA should at least be doubled or expanded by five times to be able to “strategically” procure key commodities from local farmers.
“Food security is national security. [The national government] continues to buy airplanes and ships; it must also buy food.”
Fausto said the power of the NFA to sell commodities in the domestic market must also be restored so it could counter unscrupulous traders who are gaming the prices. The state-run agency’s option to import commodities to beef up its buffer stock must also be reinstated, he added.
He said he recently met with Laurel Jr. to discuss the group’s proposals and recommendations for the improvements of the agriculture sector.
Last December 2022, the Marcos administration sent an official communication to the World Trade Organization indicating that it will not amend the country’s current rice trade regime, which was liberalized in 2019.
In a statement to the WTO Committee on Agriculture, the Philippines said it is “not considering” any modifications on its current rice trade regime.
“We would like to inform the Committee that the Philippines is not considering modifying its import regime on rice,” Manila said.
Image credits: www.nfa.gov.ph