MANILA - President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Wednesday he does not expect a rice crisis to happen in the country in the coming lean months, contrary to the warning of a farmers group of a repeat of the problem five years ago.
“No. I don’t. There is a chance na ninipis talaga ‘yung supply because nga nung magkasabay-sabay ‘yan. So we are watching and waiting to see what the production levels are going to be after the last planting season before the harvest, for the upcoming harvest and what will be… Basta’t nag-harvest na tayo. Pagka-umani na tayo, wala ng problema sa supply,” Marcos said in an interview in Bulacan.
The Federation of Free Farmers earlier said that the country could experience a deficiency in the supply of rice during the lean months of July to September.
“Basta’t things — all things remain in equal, we are, we have enough supply and that we’ll be able to keep the prices stable.”
The President, however, noted that there may be a need to import rice to ensure that there is enough supply of the staple before the harvest season.
“It is in the dry part where we are waiting for the last planting to be harvested. So ‘yun ang tinitingnan natin. We may have to import. So that’s — we’re keeping that option open,” he said.
Last April 17, the Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed that the National Food Authority (NFA) will no longer import rice for its buffer stock.
DA Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla told media that they advised the NFA to instead source rice from local farmers.
Marcos said the government is looking for ways to increase the country’s buffer stock without affecting the market price of rice.
He said that according to law, the NFA is only allowed to buy stocks from local producers.
“Ngayon, kung sasabay tayo sa harvest season na bumili, ang NFA, tataas ang presyo ng bigas. Kaya’t ‘yun ang pinoproblema ngayon namin. Paano natin gagawin ‘yun? Saan natin kukunin ‘yung pang-replenish doon sa NFA,” Marcos said.
“We have to have that buffer stock and that’s the problem that we are wrestling with now dahil talagang binabantayan natin ang mga presyo ng mga agricultural commodities. Siyempre, lalong-lalo na ang bigas.”
Last April 13, Marcos said the country has enough rice supply amid reports that rice prices may increase by P5 per kilo.