Davao officials demand more rice from NFA

Jul. 01, 2008

DAVAO CITY – City officials voiced concerns over the continuing scarcity of cheap rice in the region, with the National Food Authority (NFA) failing to provide 60-70 percent of the city’s daily consumption.

City Councilor Tomas Monteverde IV said NFA must be having a supply problem because the agency failed to provide rice to the increasing number of people lining up its outlets.

In a special session earlier, the city council requested the NFA to increase the rice allocation in Davao and the rest of Mindanao.

But Lorenzo Camayang, NFA’s manager for Davao City, said NFA has already increased the allocation for the city from an average of 15-20 percent to 30-40 per cent in June.

Camayang said NFA will still increase the rice allocation as answer to the city council’s request and to prepare for the lean months in July to September.

Lemuel Ortonto, chief of staff of vice mayor Sara Duterte, said the city council has yet to receive an update from the NFA regarding their request.

Davao city consumes 9,000 50-kilogram bags per day, or an equivalent of 450 metric tons of rice, according to NFA data. Monteverde expected the NFA to supply 60 to 70 per cent of the city’s rice consumption; or 270 to 315 metric tons per day.

Camayang said the city’s existing supply of 549,254 bags can last 62 days.

The city council had asked NFA to set up two outlets for every barangay (village) to make affordable rice accessible to the poor. Monteverde pointed out barangay Acacia in Buhangin District where people are lining up everyday before the only NFA outlet.

Camayang said NFA has already increased its outlets to 293 from 243 in the city. He promised to put up more outlets once the Department of Social Welfare and Development identify the areas where they are needed most.

City Hall is giving away 250 sacks of rice each week for free. Monteverde said the city plans to increase the weekly distribution to 500 to a thousand sacks but the city government is at a loss where to buy additional supply of rice.

The city distributes two kilos of rice, a can of sardines and a pack of instant noodles, to local residents who cannot afford to buy commercial rice. It has moved its distribution from the Sangguniang Panlungsod building to the barangays. The distribution program covers 700 to 1,200 individuals each week.

Councilor Peter Lavia proposed that the government should expand the area planted with rice and corn; build more post harvest infrastructures such as irrigation and farm-to-market roads to help farmers; and improve credit access to rice and corn farmers as a solution to the present rice crisis.

“All that the government need is political will,” Lavia said.

But he said the city council has to address first the long lines at the NFA outlets before coming up with long term strategic solutions to the rice problem. (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com)

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