NFA Council OKs sale of ‘aging but good rice’

THE National Food Authority (NFA) Council announced Wednesday the approval of the Bigas 29 program, or the sale of “aging but good” rice stocks to select beneficiaries in Kadiwa sites starting July.

“This program primarily aims to provide rice at an affordable price of PHP29 per kilogram for the vulnerable sectors of society,” Agriculture Secretary and NFA Council chairperson Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. said in a statement.

He stressed that the Bigas 29 is still in line with the food security and affordability targets under the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

Among the target beneficiaries are solo parents, senior citizens, persons with disability (PWD), and eventually Indigenous People (IP).

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa, meanwhile, assured the good quality of “aging” NFA rice which undergoes laboratory tests.

“Hindi maglalabas ang NFA ng stocks na unfit for human consumption. So, may procedure naman sila diyan kung talagang hindi na nabenta iyong mga lumang-luma na. Pero hindi naman umaabot doon,” he said in an interview.

De Mesa said palay is considered “old” when it has been stocked for six months, while it is three months for milled rice.

NFA typically sells its stocks to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), and local government units (LGUs), among others.

The NFA Council, meanwhile, set a purchase limit of 10 kilograms per household per month since the program targets to cater to 6.9 million families or more than 34 million Filipinos.

“Of course, this will not cover the requirements on a daily basis, but malaking bagay na makakatulong sa kanila na iyong 10 kilo na iyon ay nabili nila at PHP29,” De Mesa said.

The DA said identification or monitoring cards will be used to check on the one-time or staggered buying of 10 kg per beneficiary.

Overall, the NFA will target to supply 69,000 metric tons (MT) of subsidized rice, with social costs ranging from PHP1.39 billion to PHP1.53 billion per month.

De Mesa also clarified that NFA’s import plan concerning the Bigas 29 program is just “an option for augmentation” in case its stocks run out. (PNA)