THE National Food Authority (NFA) in western Pangasinan has assured that there is enough rice in its area of operation despite the threat of long dry spell posed by El Niño phenomenon.

Ramon Cuaresma, NFA branch manager in Pangasinan, said it does not yet feel the effect of El Niño because their rice distribution to the different market outlets has not exceeded its actual target of 50,000 bags per month starting in January this year.

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There were 44,000 bags of rice distributed to outlets in January and 28,000 so far this month of February.

He said that since January, his office has started doing strategic positioning of rice in different NFA warehouses to ensure the availability of government rice in the market.

Cuaresma said that on top of the buffer stocks of the NFA in western Pangasinan, the area is still expecting the arrival of imported rice from abroad to augment the present stocks of 400,000 bags.

The estimated commercial stocks in the area are 165,000 bags and the household stocks or those in the hands of farmer-producers are placed at another 754,000 bags, said Cuaresma.

All these, totaling 1.3 million bags, will still be boosted by around 278,000 bags from palay harvest in the area this February, placing the total stocks to 1.6 million bags, which will be enough to last till June this year.

Cuaresma said that despite water is now drying up in certain areas, western Pangasinan is still expecting another one million bags from rice harvest up to June, which will extend the supply of rice for another two months.

He said another 60,000 bags of imported rice is due in western Pangasinan up to May this year and that the stocks have started arriving since January. These alone, Cuaresma added, can answer the one month rice consumption of the people of Pangasinan. (PNA)