DENYING allegations of rice rotting in National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses, top NFA officials in Ilocos Region said the agency has been conducting stringent pest control measures to maintain the quality of its stocks.

NFA Director Amadeo de Guzman said the allegation that NFA stocks are rotting in warehouses in Ilocos is not true.

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"The oldest stocks in our warehouses were delivered to us in 2009, which represents only a small portion of our total inventory. Our pest control officers are regularly checking the conditions of these stocks," De Guzman said.

De Guzman added that if the stocks show signs of degeneration, these are separated from good stocks and are sold as animal feed.

He reiterated that NFA does not distribute stocks that are not suitable for human consumption.

NFA in Ilocos Region, which serves the Ilocos provinces, including the provinces of Abra and Benguet, has a total of 2.19 million bags of rice in its warehouses.

With a daily consumption of 52,060 bags, the inventory is good for 65 days or until the next harvest season.

He said the present inventory of NFA forms part of the buffer stock and stock positioning for the lean months, from July to September 2010, where farmers are still in planting season.

The regional director said it's not fair to say that they are overstocking warehouses because their inventory is meant for distribution and preparations for emergencies and disasters citing the region as a calamity-prone area.

"Of the 2.19 million bags of rice, La Union warehouses have the biggest inventory at 1.011 million bags because the province serves as staging warehouse for all rice imports being unloaded at [the] Poro port," he said.

The rest of their inventory, meanwhile, is distributed in warehouses in Ilocos, Benguet, and Abra.

Earlier, NFA Baguio Benguet Provincial Director Rolando Rufo, right after President Benigno Aquino III's State of the Nation Address, said there is no excess rice in their warehouse in the province as they have marketing plans for their stocks.

De Guzman asked the public to report to the NFA any irregularities with regard to the selling of NFA rice.

"We admit we cannot monitor all of our 1,079 outlets so we ask the public to report to us any irregularities in the market when it comes to the selling of NFA rice," he said.

He added the agency continues to sell NFA rice at P25 per kilo. (JM Agreda)