THE National Food Authority (NFA) in Negros Occidental would need almost 2.4 million kilograms of rice to meet the requirement of 118,376 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in the province.
The impending distribution of actual rice instead of cash for the rice subsidy component of the program is a collaboration among the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Agriculture (DA), and NFA.
Engineer Frisco Canoy, provincial manager of NFA-Negros Occidental, said they have yet to wait for the guidelines from the agency’s Central Office to start supplying the 4Ps beneficiaries in the province.
Canoy said under the program, the NFA will supply 20 kilograms of “quality” rice to each of the beneficiaries or totaling to about 47,350 bags every month.
“It will answer the need of our farmers as it will serve as sure market for them,” he said, adding that NFA-Negros Occidental has already started milling for this purpose.
Western Visayas is one of the six pilot-regions of the program.
Once implemented, the P600-monthly rice subsidy for each 4Ps beneficiary will be downloaded to the NFA and no longer be included in the cash transfer through automated teller machine (ATM).
Initially, the program is expected to start this month. But aside from distribution, NFA-Negros Occidental has yet to wait for final guidelines on storage, among others.
Canoy said storage can be a problem given such huge volume.
In Kabankalan City, for instance, they have no available warehouse that can cater to about 3,000 bags requirement, he said.
Under the joint agreement with other agencies, the per kilo of rice for 4Ps beneficiaries costs P30.
“The market retail price of NFA rice is only P27 per kilogram so the excess might cover the delivery and storage costs. We do not know yet,” Canoy said.
Given such required volume for 4Ps, the local government units (LGUs) might establish warehouses for this purpose.
For the NFA, he said this is a new program without logistics and employee component “so we might be hiring job orders.”
The provincial manager pointed out that if ever the milling for the procured palay (unhusked rice) has not yet in full swing, existing import buffer stocks can be utilized.
Provided, it should be reconditioned or re-milled. One of the requirements is that it should be quality rice, Canoy said.
“Existing stocks might be released first since our target is to zero-out the stocks subject to reconditioning before issuing to ensure good quality,” he added.
Though the NFA has also been supplying stocks to other government agencies and offices for various purposes like supplemental feeding program, the 4Ps will now become one of its priorities.
If the province lacks supplies, NFA-Negros Occidental can receive augmentation from other provinces and regions.
“The local farmers will be encouraged to plant and sell their produce to the NFA because there’s already a buyer,” he said.