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NFA Council approves three rice importations at 2-week intervals

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NFA rice warehouse
The NFA rice stored at a warehouse in Quezon City. -- PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE National Food Authority (NFA) Council has decided to authorize private-sector imports of 750,000 metric tons (MT) of rice in three batches of 250,000 MT each, arriving every two weeks starting Nov. 30.

“Based on the instruction of the NFA Council instead of G2G (government-to-government deals), we will divide the 750,000 metric tons into three. An initial importation of 250,000 MT will be followed two weeks after by another 250,000, then two weeks after another 250,000,” NFA Spokesperson Rex C. Estoperez told reporters in a chance interview at the PICC on Wednesday.

According to Mr. Estoperez, bidding for the first shipment will be on Oct. 18, with subsequent auctions every two weeks after.

He said the main issue is the ability to deliver the shipments, with the first of the deadlines on Nov. 30. This means the imports will “spill over until next year, but that can be part of our beginning inventory for 2019.”

The target for NFA domestic procurement is 389,000 MT next year, he added.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol has said that the NFA Council provided standby authority to import 1 million MT of rice for 2019.

Former Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said a 1 million MT import level is “normal” but the timing and ports of entry for the shipments need to be planned in detail.

“The shipments need to be planned by month and by port. It should not be all in Metro Manila. Metro Manila is always a key area but there are deficit areas in other parts of the country,” Mr. Dar added. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio