NATIONAL Food Authority (NFA) rice buffer stock in Davao Region is on its critical stage and additional bags from Cebu, Iloilo, and Bacolod are expected to arrive in the coming months to augment the region’s rice supply, an official said.

Currently, Davao Region has around 102,000 bags in their storage facility. According to NFA Davao Regional Director Dianne Silva, depending on the population’s daily consumption requirement, this amount would only be good for three days if the region is solely dependent on NFA rice. But since most of the consumers opt for commercial rice, Silva said the amount will probably last for 20 more days.

“We are on our critical stage (of our NFA rice stocks) but we are thankful that we still have commercial rice being sold. But even though this is our state now, we are asking for augmentation stocks from regional offices in the country that still have stocks to spare,” said Silva.

She said last May 31, a vessel from NFA Iloilo containing 33,000 bags of NFA rice arrived in Davao City. A number of these are already included in the 102,000 bags rice stock record. Only last Thursday, June 1, was the unloading completed and Silva said they hope to already finish and finalize the record of the total rice bags stored for Davao Region.

“We asked help from Iloilo and they promised around 100,000 bags to be given to our region. The 33,000 bags have already arrived. We received information today that they are again loading from Bacolod towards here. The second vessel, which will carry around 30,000 bags, is hopefully to arrive on the third week of June,” Silva said adding NFA Cebu also promised to assist with 100,000 bags.

Silva said, although the region has rice producers, NFA could not necessarily just buy from the farmers and convert it into NFA rice since the farmers sell them at P22 to P24 per kilo. When these are sold into commercial rice, the prices double to P44 to 48 per kilo due to milling and other processes involved, explaining the current commercial rice prices. She then explained that the purchase for NFA rice, which is sold in retail for P25, is different.

With the NFA rice price expected to be lower than commercial prices, Silva said the suggestion to just purchase rice from local farmers would mean either NFA would increase the price of their NFA rice or the farmers would lower their selling price. Both of which, according to Silva, would affect the farmers and consumers negatively as price for NFA rice increasing will also definitely cause commercial rice to increase as well.