THE National Food Authority (NFA) in Negros Occidental will sustain its “Tagpuan Rice Response Delivery Program” to ensure that those availing the cheaper government rice are mainly belonging to the marginalized sector in the province, its top official said.
NFA-Negros Occidental provincial manager Frisco Canoy, who led the launching of “tagpuan” at Barangay Banago in Bacolod City on Thursday, said the measure is aimed at making more accessible the P27 per kilogram rice especially to the poor.
Canoy said the concept of the program, which is in collaboration with the Grains Retailers Confederation (Grecon), is really to bring NFA rice to areas where it is needed most.
“We want mainly the marginalized sector to benefit from this program by providing them more access in availing the cheaper rice of the government,” he added.
For NFA, "tagpuan” is a place where people normally converge like markets and barangay halls, among others.
Currently, there are already three “tagpuan” areas established in Bacolod City.
The first two are in Barangays Sum-ag and Granada which opened on September 4 and 12, respectively.
In Banago, about 500 residents were able to buy up to two kilograms of NFA rice each through the “tagpuan” outlet set up in front of the barangay hall.
For 59-year old Shirley Gantala, the program is really a big help for the residents especially now that the prices of commercial rice have increased up to P58 per kilogram depending on quality.
“We can hardly buy commercial rice now thus, putting up a mobile market for cheaper yet quality NFA rice is a huge relief for us,” she added.
Florita Mailum, 49, who also took time to go to the “tagpuan” and buy NFA rice, appealed to make the selling of P27 per kilogram rice in their barangay more often.
“Or maybe, they could increase the allowable number of kilograms that can be purchased by the consumers,” Mailum said.
Canoy, however, said that with the currently available buffer stocks of NFA rice in the province, they can only allocate a maximum of 20 bags per “tagpuan” outlet.
The selling, for now, is also once a week given the limited inventory of NFA rice, pending the arrival of the additional 130,000 bags of import allocation for the province, Canoy said.
“We really want to sustain the program even once a week. It would really help the consumers as they will also no longer spend on transport fare going to the market,” Canoy said.
When import allocation arrives, NFA-Negros Occidental may also increase the distribution per “tagpuan” as well as the allowable volume that can be sold, he added.
Moreover, the provincial manager further said they are opening more “tagpuan” centers in the province, including those outside Bacolod City.
The agency has already received some applications from retailers, yet subject to validation whether there is a market day in their areas.
Canoy said they are also closely coordinating with the Grecon as to other retailers who are interested in putting up “tagpuans.”
“Grecon is in charge of everything like coordination with the barangay council before the NFA can authorize the selling and provide rice allocation,” he said, adding that “we will continue this scheme in order to serve especially the depressed areas.”