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NFA clarifies reports of rice repacking

Posted by Abi Kwok on August 26, 2008

By Abigail Kwok
First Posted 18:26:00 08/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The National Food Authority (NFA) clarified reports that its rice stocks were being repacked and sold at higher prices in some areas by local dealers, saying this was part of the agency’s move to allocate imported rice to farmer cooperatives.

NFA administrator Jessup Navarro issued the statement on Tuesday after rice millers in Pangasinan complained that the P25-per-kilo NFA rice is being repacked and sold at P32 per kilo in the market. Pangasinan rice millers claimed that the process of repacking is also being done in the provinces of Isabela, Bulacan and even in Metro Manila.

But Navarro said that the repacking of the government-subsidized rice was done under the agency’s Institutionalized Farmers as Distributor (IFAD) program. Under this program, farmer organizations and cooperatives are able to participate in the distribution of imported rice.

“While the NFA is tasked to ensure food security and stability of the staple food, the farmers as our partners in the program are allowed to do the rice distribution under certain rules and regulations,” he added.

Navarro also said that the IFAD program aimed at boosting the farmers’ entrepreneurial and marketing capabilities and that the rice stocks being repacked were part of the volume NFA obtained during the lean months.

For this year, the NFA has allocated one million bags of rice to farmer organizations and cooperatives and were released in three batches: 25 percent in June, 35 percent last July, and 40 percent this August.

“Rice being sold under IFAD are no longer considered NFA’s but the farmers’,” Navarro said.

As protection, the NFA will only allow rice to be repacked at NFA warehouse.

“All empty sacks used for the rebagging are even marked IFAD Program in bold letters to distinguish them from the issuance under the regular distribution. Original empty sacks recovered from rebagging shall be retained by NFA,” Navarro said.

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