Press Release
September 1, 2016


MANILA - Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Thursday commended the National Food Authority (NFA) and Cabinet Secretay Leoncio Evasco Jr. on the judicious bidding of rice contracts involving 250,000 metric tons awarded to Thailand and Vietnam.

The incoming rice supply is expected to be used as buffer stock for the coming lean months. The NFA initially rejected the bid offers of both governments as they were higher than the reference price of $425 per ton. Thailand's initial offer was $432 a ton for 100,000 MT of rice, while Vietnam offered $432.75 per metric ton for the entire volume. Both Thailand and Vietnam revised their offer to $424.85

ed the reforms we helped put in place that ensures that the purchase process is competitive, and limiting the exercise of discretion by the NFA which has been abused in the past," Pangilinan said. In 2014, the NFA also rejected high bid offers for the first time in 43 years. This resulted in government savings of P7 billion.

Last year, NFA imported around 1.2 million MT of rice in preparation for the severe effects of El Nino.

Pangilinan was the Chairman of the NFA Council during his stint as the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization from May 2014 to September 2015.

"During my time at the NFA, for the first time in 43 years, we rejected bid offers from other governments because of high prices. This lowered the bidding prices, resulting in savings for the government amounting to some P7 billion. We were also able to bring down rice inflation. Judicious importation and distribution resulted in a net profit of P1.8 billion by the end of 2014 -- a first for the NFA since the 1990s," Pangilinan said.

Earlier, Pangilinan cautioned against the abolition of NFA, saying the farmers will find it hard to survive in a market flooded with cheap rice.

"Our top consideration must be our farmers because they will bear the brunt if NFA is abolished. Opening the importation of rice to the private sector will further reduce their already small income, as it will flood the markets with cheap rice," said Pangilinan, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

His reaction was in response to news reports that Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. will recommend to the President the abolition of three agencies, including the NFA.

For Pangilinan, there needs to be two prerequisites before these actions are considered: farm productivity, and the involvement of the private sector.

"We have to ask the question, are our farmers prepared? We have to prepare them for the eventual arrival of cheap rice. We have to improve farm production rates so that they may be able to compete with other players that will soon saturate the market. How are we going to do that? Pour funds into mechanization and provide our farmers with fertilizers. Bringing down the cost of production will not only increase their income, but also raise their competitiveness," Pangilinan said.

"Priming the private sector is also important so that we may be able to level the playing field in order for rice prices to not fall and be in the control of only a few. Rice is staple food of more than 100 million of our people. Changes in rice prices have the power to determine whether or not a family will go hungry," he said.

"If the functions of the NFA will be performed responsibly and its officials remain prudent, the agency can be a catalyst for achieving its mandate of food security," he added.

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