TABUK, Kalinga -- Bigasan sa Barangay outlets (BBO) will no longer sell subsidized rice from the National Food Authority (NFA) after the phase out of Tindahan Natin Outlets (TNO) starting July.

This was contained in NFA Memorandum No. AO-2K10-D-054 dated April 28, 2010 furnished to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) field office in the province that also provided for the conversion of TNO into BBO effective end of June this year.

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In the previous TNO set-up, NFA allocates subsidized rice at P18.25/kg to TNO operators in line with the Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program of government, which provides cheap rice to address hunger and malnutrition among the poor.

Jeffrey Garcia of DSWD Field Office Kalinga explained that since the program ends with the term of President Gloria Arroyo on June 30, NFA converted the TNOs to BBOs that would still sell NFA rice but at P25/kg, under NFA's regular rice allocation program.

In the province, out of the 67 TNOs, 48 are approved as BBOs distributed in various municipalities with Tabuk - 28, Tanudan - 6, Rizal - 5, Balbalan - 3, Pasil and Pinukpuk - 2 each, Lubuagan - 1. Tinglayan has none.

BBOs have a weekly rice allocation of at least 10 sacks from NFA but could request for more depending on capital capability and approval of NFA provincial office.

Selling at P25/kg or P1,250/sack, NFA rice at bigasan outlets is still cheaper than commercial rice which sells at an average price of P1500/sack.

Garcia said BBO operators buy the rice at P1,175/sack from NFA with a mark-up of P75 to defray transport cost. But in areas where additional hauling cost is incurred, BBO operators are allowed to add on to their retail price, subject to NFA approval, Garcia said.

This program of government through the NFA rice distribution program allocates cheaper rice to low-income families and is under close monitoring by NFA to assure that the rice would not fall on wrong hands by profiteers.

TNO operators who had previous reports on irregular practices were not issued licenses as BBO operators. (Larry Lopez)