NATIONAL Food Authority (NFA) Chief Lito Banayo must consider re-milling spoiled rice grains so it could be consumed, according to a former NFA administrator.

Representative Emil Ong (second district, Northern Samar), an NFA official during the administration of the late former President Cory Aquino, said that spoiled grains can be re-milled.

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He said the outer covering can be used as livestock feed while the inner white rice grain can be consumed by humans.

"Never burn rice, Mr. Administrator Lito Banayo," Ong pointed out.

But the NFA chief said that he did not consider burning rotten rice grains, considering the volume of excess rice. He told Sun.Star, "Why, who is burning spoiled rice? And besides, the volume is quite small."

Ong admitted that during his time, there was also an issue of over importation, explaining that the demand for rice usually increases during the election period.

The lawmaker, a partymate of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, added that it is the responsibility of the President to ensure that there will be enough rice when he or she steps down.

Banayo earlier said old rice stocks, which does not include spoiled rice grains, should be disposed before October when farmers start harvesting.

The over importation of rice during the Arroyo administration was raised by President Benigno Aquino III himself during his first State of the Nation Address last July 26.

President Aquino reported that in the years 2004 and 2007, the NFA bought more than was what needed.

"Is this not a crime, letting rice rot, despite the fact that there are 4 million Filipinos who do not eat three times a day?" he remarked.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala urged rice millers for sustained cooperation, particularly in sharing credible data, to ensure stable supply of rice in the country.

In a recent meeting with dozens of rice millers, Alcala said: “Let’s help each other to address the problems of the rice industry. We enjoin you to streamline your data, as it will help to efficiently manage the rice industry."

He called on the rice millers to assist the Department of Agriculture particularly in arriving at a more credible estimate of the country’s total rice inventory and thus avoid over importation and hoarding. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)