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Marcos sees no looming rice crisis

SAN JOSE DEL MONTE, Bulacan — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said Wednesday he does not see a looming rice crisis.

In an interview with reporters, Marcos was asked if he is seeing another round of rice crisis following the statement of the Federation of Free Farmers that there could be a deficiency on rice during lean months similar to what happened in 2018.

"No. I don’t. There is a chance na ninipis talaga ‘yung supply because nga noong magkasabay-sabay ‘yan," Marcos said.

(No. I don't. There is a chance that there would be a thinner supply.)

"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…" he added.

Marcos said there would be no problem when it comes to supply after the harvest season.

"Basta’t nag-harvest na tayo. Pagka umani na tayo, wala ng problema sa supply (If we already harvest, there would be no problem with the supply). It’s precisely as you mentioned. It is in the dry part where we are waiting for the last planting to be harvested," he said.

The President also reiterated that the buffer stock of the National Food Authority needs to be increased because it is currently “low.”

"The problem that we are facing now is because of the recent past. Medyo minamalas tayo sa bagyo, bumaba --- tapos kakadaan lang natin ng lockdown, pandemic, et cetera. Nagamit nang husto ‘yung buffer stock ng NFA," Marcos said.

(We've been unlucky because of the typhoons, the lockdown, pandemic. Our buffer stock was already used.)

"Ang natira… Usually, ang gusto natin diyan is buffer stock of nine days. Presently, ang buffer stock ng NFA is one and a half days lamang. Isang bagyo pa lang ‘yan eh siguro wala pang isang --- after two, three days wala na tayong mabibigay," he added.

(Usually, the buffer stock is nine days. Presently, the buffer stock is just one and a half day. If a storm comes, after two, three days, we could no longer provide.)

Marcos earlier said the government was trying to make sure that the NFA would be able to build up its buffer stock. 

The NFA earlier proposed to import over 330,000 metric tons of rice to replenish the country’s buffer stock of the staple in anticipation of calamities.

But the Department of Agriculture said the NFA proposal was dropped.

According to DA Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and Regulations Mercedita Sombilla, the government prefers to procure the needed supply locally. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News