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Piñol wants DA included in NFA Council

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Tuesday said the country should be cautious in allowing private traders to import rice to boost buffer stocks for the lean season.

Piñol indicated his position amid National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Jason Aquino's failure to implement the NFA Council’s order on extending rice importation through the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme.

“It wouldn't work if the private sector will (be the one) to import. The private sector, because what they do, not all of them but commonly what is being done, when imported rice arrives, they re-sack, re-bag and sell (these in) the market as commercial rice,” he told reporters.

The agriculture chief said there was no significance of helping Filipino consumers if the prices of imported rice were the same with the commercial rice.

With this, Piñol believed that his department should be included in the NFA council in bid to gain access to information about rice importation.

“So we can give our input. My point is, don’t import during the harvest season,” he noted.

Piñol cited President Decree (PD) No. 1770 that included The Minister of Agriculture in the NFA Council.

PD 1770 transformed the National Grains Authority into the National Food Authority, a government corporation attached to the Office of the President.

Piñol said he would write a formal letter to President Rodrigo Duterte Rodrigo this week requesting the return of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the NFA Council.

“I will await for the decision of the President. Last night, he directed (Department of Finance) Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez to head a group that will review the viability and relevance of these agencies in relation to our food security program,” he added.

The NFA Council approved the extension of the deadline of import allocation arrivals from Feb. 28, 2017 to March 31, 2017.

But NFA administrator Aquino decided not to extend the deadline for the arrival of rice imports under the MAV scheme, noting their arrival could dampen the price of local farmers’ produce. (PNA) RMA/LDV

Leslie D Venzon / PNA