The National Food Authority (NFA) has stopped selling rice in four out of six Eastern Visayas due to dwindling stocks, a top official said on Tuesday.
Distribution of NFA rice has been completely stopped in Leyte, Biliran, Eastern Samar, and Samar provinces since Friday as stock level dropped significantly over the past few weeks, said NFA Regional Manager Henry Tristeza.
“Our current stock is only good for 1.7 days with only 57,735 bags of rice left in our warehouses as of Monday. We have to stop the distribution because we need buffer stocks as immediate response after natural calamities,” Tristeza said.
Of the 57,735 bags left, 22,398 bags are stored in Southern Leyte, 13,442 bags in Northern Samar, 6,971 bags in Biliran, 6,872 bags in Eastern Samar, 4,432 bags in Leyte, and 3,620 bags in Samar province.
Limited release to grains retailers continue in Southern Leyte and Northern Samar areas since its current stocks will last three to four days based on the average daily consumption of the entire population.
However, based on cheaper rice actual average daily sales of 260 bags, Southern Leyte’s stocks will be good for 86 days. Northern Samar’s supply will last for 538 days based on the daily distribution of 25 bags.
“It is our dilemma on how we can sustain the food security requirements of poor families who can only afford to buy cheaper rice. The NFA Council has already approved the importation of 25,000 metric tons of rice, but the earliest shipment could be after 30 days,” Tristeza said.
NFA rice is available in the markert at PHP27 and PHP32 per kilogram, lower than the PHP40 to PHP48 per kilogram retail price of commercial price.
The grains agency allayed public fears considering that commercial traders and households in the region had combined stocks of nearly one million bags, enough to supply the food requirement before harvest season. (PNA)