NFA, in Restrospect
The National Food Authority was created through Presidential Decree No. 4 dated September 26, 1972, under the name National Grains Authority, (NGA) with the mission of promoting the integrated growth and development of the grains industry covering rice, corn, feed grains and other grains like sorghum, mongo, and peanut. This decree abolished two agencies, namely, the Rice and Corn Board (RICOB) and the Rice and Corn Administration (RCA) but absorbed their respective functions. The former was then regulating the rice and corn retail trade and was tasked to nationalize it within a target date. The latter was in-charged of marketing or distribution of government low-priced rice especially during lean months. In addition, the new agency was vested additional functions aimed at developing the grains post-harvest systems and processes.
Among others, the NGA supported the paddy production program of the government referred to as the Masagana’99 Program, which was geared toward rice self-sufficiency. It engaged in massive paddy procurement at government support price(s), and at limited volume the country joined the family of rice exporting countries from 1977 to 1981.
On January 14, 1981 Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1770 was issued which reconstituted the NGA into what is now the National Food Authority (NFA). This decree, widened the agency’s social responsibilities and commodity coverage to include, in addition to grains, other food items like raw or fresh fruits and vegetables and fish and marine, manufactured, processed, or packaged food products, and these were collectively referred to as non-grains commodities. This law was the basis of the Kadiwa chain of stores or government retail stores, which sold low-priced basic food and household items which were established within the National Capital Region and in all the provinces of the country.
On May 31, 1985, Executive Order No. 1028 was issued and provided for the deregulation of NFA’s non-grains marketing activities. This resulted in the termination of NFA’s non-grains trading activities and the return of feedgrains and wheat importation to the private sector as well as the lifting of price controls/ceilings on rice and corn. As such, at the end of 1986, all the Kadiwa Stores had been devolved to the private sector and /or closed.
Today, the National Food Authority is vested the functions of ensuring the food security of the country and the stability of supply and price of the staple grain-rice. It performs these functions through various activities and strategies, which include procurement of paddy from individual bonafide farmers and their organizations, buffer stocking, processing activities, dispersal of paddy and milled rice to strategic locations and distribution of the staple grain to various marketing outlets at appropriate times of the year.
In the last five years or so, in response to the initiatives on globalization, and as part of the efforts to trim the national budgetary deficit, the government has been looking into the possibility of restructuring, streamlining or privatizing certain activities of the NFA.
For this purpose, there were several bills filed in Congress designed to make NFA more relevant to the needs of the times including one that was crafted by the NFA community. The different versions of the bill had been consolidated into one and was already drafted by a joint committee of the upper and lower House of Congress.