National Food Authority (NFA) on Monday stated the halting of regulating international and domestic rice trade starting the next Tuesday, March 5, coinciding with the Rice Tariffication Law taking effect.
“We will just be waiting for the release of the final IRR (implementing rules and regulations) before we fully shift our focus on buffer stocking for calamities and emergencies, as stated under the law, and on the eventual restructuring of our agency to suit its new functions,” said NFA officer-in-charge Tomas Escarez.
The agency added as well to sojourn licensing and registering entities involved in the grains business, amassing regulatory fees and enforcing rules and regulations in the grains business, among others.
“March is the start of the summer crop harvest and we are ready to buy palay from our farmers,” Escarez said.
“That opens a new window of opportunity for Filipino farmers na kung ganun pala ang treatment ng consumers sa good quality rice varieties, then that could be the focus of Filipino farmers,” said Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol who believe Filipino rice farmers can contend with imported rice by planting better assortments of rice.
Piñol added that the local rice industry will receive a lot of funding this year and the succeeding one because the tariffs that will be acquired from imported rice will be channeled back to Filipino rice farmers.
Farmers’ groups however, opposed the exclusion of import quotas on rice, saying flooding the local market economy with cheaper imported rice will eke out the Philippine rice industry.
Economic managers continuing hard fought battles for the removal of import quotas on rice as a key measure to manage inflation hovering near a decade long high last year.