Group belies claims of rice shortage

A FARMERS’ group on Monday, February 26, criticized the National Food Authority (NFA) for earlier declaring a rice shortage and said the "shortage" claims may be just a scheme to control the prices of rice in the market.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Northern Mindanao Region staged a protest rally in front of the NFA office at Barangay Tablon to demand that the NFA rein in rice prices and stop rice importation.

Ireneo Udarbe, KMP-NMR secretary-general, said the government should put a stop to the nonstop deluge of imported rice into the country, saying the importation would benefit only a cartel of rice dealers that manipulate prices.

Udarbe said the rice importation policy would bring more misery to farmers, price manipulation by cartels, and could also cause corruption among agriculture officials.

"The NFA failed in their mandate which is to ensure national food security and stabilize supply in farms and consumers," Udarbe said.

Udarbe claimed that that the price of commercial rice has increased of up to P5. He said some sellers of NFA rice also increase their price from P27 per kilo to P38 per kilo.

Lawyer Edgardo Uy, City Price Coordinating Council (CPCC) chairman, meanwhile said Kagay-anons have nothing to worry about since there is enough and stable rice supply in the next months.

Uy, along with other CPCC members has visited the NFA warehouse to verify reports of rice shortage.

Uy said the NFA has also not stopped its delivery of rice to wholesalers and retailers. But only lowered level of distribution of NFA rice to prioritize supplying to areas hit by disasters or calamities.

The CPCC will also continue to conduct surprise inspections to rice retailers to put the hoarding issue to rest.
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