Indigenous peoples (Aetas, Ibaloi, Tatanao, Mangyans), small farmers, housewives with kids in tow, senior citizens, low-income workers, people in the island provinces and far-flung barangays – they all happily line up to buy good quality well-milled NFA rice at P27/kilogram as prices of commercial rice remain in the range of P41-P43/kg (regular-milled) and P44-47/kg (well-milled).

The National Food Authority (NFA) continues to do all means possible to make its newly-delivered imported rice available, accessible and affordable to the marginalized sectors of society in all parts of the Philippine archipelago.

NFA personnel and stakeholders brave the rains, floods and stormy waters to deliver the staple food to those who do not have the means to buy more expensive rice varieties and those living in the peripheries and island provinces isolated by reliable means of transportation and unattractive for private traders to conduct business.

At present, the NFA is serving a total of 529,942 rice outlets across the country. These include 225,399 accredited outlets inside market; 54,971 accredited outlets outside market; 202,450 Institutionalized Bigasan sa Palengke (IBSP); 26,810 Bigasang Bayan Outlets (BBO); 2,088 Barangay Bagsakan (BB); 1,793 Bigasan sa Parokya Outlet (BPO); and 16,431 other outlets.

These outlets are supplemented by rolling stores manned by NFA personnel and deployed to remote areas without accredited retailers, public market or NFA rice outlet.

The NFA has a total of 13,636 accredited rice retailers selling NFA rice at P27 and P32/kg in these outlets. Recently, the NFA also partnered with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the sale of NFA rice in Barangay Food Terminals (BFTs) in some provinces across the country.

From January to July 25 this year, the NFA has already distributed a total of 3,089,984 bags of rice through its various outlets across the country. For the month of July alone, total distribution has already reached 786,639 bags.

“Even before the arrival of our imported rice in June, NFA personnel have been instructed to make the low-priced NFA rice immediately available to the markets. Our regular patrons have been waiting for it since March. At present, we have already established our presence in all corners of the country,” NFA administrator Jason Aquino said.

He explained, however, that because of delays in unloading of imported stocks due to inclement weather, the agency needs to calibrate distribution to ensure that there are enough stocks not only in the markets but also for emergencies and calamity victims.

“We are now in the lean months period where successive typhoons traditionally visit our country bringing floods and destruction to agricultural crops, lives and properties. This is the season when NFA is expected to be more active in ensuring that victims of calamities are food secure by making rice immediately available for release to relief-giving agencies and local government units,” Aquino said.

Over the years, NFA field personnel have risked lives and limbs in fulfilling their duties to man its 24-hour operations center and rolling stores, protect stocks and deliver rice to calamity victims and the marginalized sectors of society.

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