P18.25 rice rationed after August


THE National Food Authority yesterday said it is planning to pull out government-subsidized rice in public markets in September when prices of the staple are expected to soften because of the second cropping and harvest season.

The NFA is selling government-subsidized rice at P18.25 a kilo. As part of the government’s pro-poor programs, poor families are being given access cards which will enable them to buy the cheap rice.

“Low-priced rice should be allotted only for the poor families with access cards,” said Jessup Navarro, NFA administrator.

“By September, if the harvest is high and prices of rice go down, that will be our cue to fully place the P18.25/kilo rice only to those with family access cards,” he also said.

For families without access cards, the NFA is planning to put up additional outlets for its mid-priced rice, said Rex Estoperez, chief of the NFA public affairs office.

The NFA is giving poor families until July 28 to secure their family access cards.

The government has spent almost $1.5 billion to procure 2.3 million tons of rice from Thailand and Vietnam this year, or more than three times it spent ($626 million) last year.

Sen. Mar Roxas II urged the government to divert the $2 billion fund allotted for importing rice to a program giving subsidy and support mechanisms to farmers. This, he said, would increase rice production.

He said there are 1.4 million hectares of irrigated rice lands with two cropping seasons. Even if only 1 million hectares would be added, it would already ease the problem on rice supply, he said.

Roxas said farmers harvest less because they are putting less fertilizers in their lands. This is so because prices of fertilizers like urea have risen three-fold, he said.

Roxas said the Arroyo administration has misspent this year’s P1.3 trillion budget, resulting in a food crisis.

“Kung ilagay lamang sa tama itong malaking pondong ito, kung ilagay lamang sa tama ang aksyon ng gobyerno… itong kakulangan ng bigas ay malulutas sa loob ng isa o dalawang taon,” he said. – With JP Lopez(Malaya)

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