The National Food Authority yesterday assured of sufficient supply of rice during the lean months.
NFA Administrator Renan Dalisay said the country has enough buffer stocks of rice at government-owned warehouses to keep prices stable in the coming months.
"We have about 31 days (buffer stock) projection by mid-June. We don't usually have more than the mandated inventory during lean months," he said.
The NFA is required by law to have at least 15-day buffer stock at any given time, and 30-day buffer stock during lean months.
Traditionally, lean months season in the Philippines starts in July and ends in September. It is also the time when the government imports rice that would help stabilize price in retail markets.
The government is eyeing the utilization of the minimum access volume (MAV) for the buffer stocking. Another option being considered is through government-led importation using the standby authority of about 500,000 metric tons (MT).
MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce allowed to enter into the Philippines at reduced tariff of 35 percent, while shipments outside MAV pay higher rates of 50 percent and would need approval by the NFA.
At present, the government limits to 805,000 MT the amount of rice allowed to enter the country through the scheme.
Meanwhile, with just over two months before the new administration takes over, Dalisay said he has submitted his resignation letter to the Office of the President effective April 30, citing health and personal reasons for his stepping down.
"I'm just waiting for the consideration of President Benigno Aquino III. But I have to do this now. If I don't do this, it may further cause more damage to my health, and also affect the agency," he noted.
Dalisay was named as NFA administrator in November 2014, replacing Arthur Juan, who also resigned due to "failing health."
Before being appointed by President Aquino as member of the NFA Council, Dalisay was special assistant for NFA concerns to Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan.
When asked how his resignation will affect negotiations for the country's rice requirement for the lean months, Dalisay said it is the NFA Council who will discuss options and decide on whether there is a need to import rice this year.
He added that they have already prepared all possible rice importation schemes ready for approval of the next administration.
"Personally, I think it would be better that we include the next administration for the rice importation discussion. But it is still up for the policymakers to decide whether to push through now, or just wait for the new NFA chief to decide," he said.*PNA
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