The chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food believes there is no rice shortage based on statistics provided by the Department of Agriculture.
She is Sen. Cynthia Villar who has been conducting an inquiry on the rice supply in the country and the roles of the Department of Agriculture and the National Food Authority.
Banking on the assurances of Agriculture Sec. Proceso J. Alcala, she believes the country has sufficient rice supply. Alcala had projected that the rice output could hit the 20 million tons this year.
On the other hand, NFA administrator Orlan Calayag stressed that the country has a total rice buffer stock of 1.7 million metric tons which is enough to last for 51 days. By that time, there would be enough of the new rice crop that will start to be harvested shortly.
While there may be rice production shortfall due to the recent typhoons, Calayag said the country was still on track to rice self-sufficiency as the NFA had 2 million metric tons carryover inventory last year.
However, Villar believes there is still a need to revisit existing strategies as well as policies and programs regarding rice self-sufficiency goals.
She also cited the need to reexamine the national supply thresholds, standards, rules and regulations controlling the country’s rice production and supply stabilization initiatives.
“It is fitting that we make an assessment of how far along are we in meeting our long-standing goal of rice self-sufficiency and revisit the strategies that the concerned departments and agencies are employing in ensuring that we meet our targets,” Villar said.
“We should likewise exhaust all options to regulate the control on rice supply by the private sector to avoid an increase in its prices,” added Villar as she noted that the year 2013 was designated by President Aquino as the “National Year of the Rice.”
Villar also noted that under the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, food security and raising the income of farmers are the agriculture sector’s ultimate goals.