Should we be anxious? Print
Thursday, 15 February 2018 13:26

By Remedios F. Marmoleño

Rice is still very much a part of the meals in our household. And my anxiety level has gone up a bit since the news item about a rice shortage for the country. The NFA has announced that we should anticipate a shortage of  the cereal in the next few months. But this announcement was countered by Senator Villar who said there is no anticipated shortage. Who should I believe?

Some families can continue buying rice even if  the price for it goes higher than normal. Some families can barely afford rice, and sometimes that is all that these families can have as food. Rice is  very central  in the diet of Filipinos, and the possibility of it running short for the country’s needs, or the price for it going higher than usual, is a cause of anxiety for the majority of our countrymen.

The NFA is the government agency charged with maintaining the supply and the price of rice as mandated. So why do we come across reports in the media that the supply of  NFA rice  is good for only so many days in some regions of the country? And this claim is usually followed by the statement that if the NFA is to import rice, say  from Thailand or Vietnam, it would take some weeks before this comes into the country and days after our own rice has run out. For  those who can barely afford NFA rice this can signal going into  panic mode.

We understand very well that when news about a rice shortage gets about the news triggers, first,  a spike in the price of commercial rice and,  second, hoarding by the rice suppliers and even by households which can afford to buy rice in advance of immediate need. My understanding is the NFA was set up precisely to prevent these things.

I also presume that the NFA keeps data as to their stock levels, the daily trend of sales of this stock, the time needed for imports to get to the country if there is a need to import, and such other data that are mandatory for the agency to carry out efficiently and effectively its mandate. With the speed that such data can be had and analyzed with computer technology how is it that we still find ourselves in a situation where a shortage is experienced?

It seems that we have not only lagged behind in the efficient production of rice as compared to Thailand and Vietnam, we also seem to be befuddled in effective planning for sufficiency of rice, whether this is  produced locally or imported. We should get our act together.