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Solon bats for creation of clusters of grains commodity exchanges

A party-list lawmaker on Monday called for the creation of national and regional clusters of grains commodity exchanges where rice and corn can be transparently traded to ensure stable supplies of the food staples. In a statement, Ang Probinsyano Party-list Representative Alfred Delos Santos said the creation of these commodity clusters would also help in making the price of rice and corn more affordable. Delos Santos added that the “best way” to ensure rice supply at present is to buy buffer stocks from local farmers in the provinces. He particularly noted that the National Food Authority (NFA) must source its buffer stocks primarily and directly from local rice farmers and cooperatives. “What the National Food Authority (NFA) can still do is maintain its own NFA buffer stocks. It should in preparation for the lean months from late June to mid-September,” Delos Santos said. “The way forward is to impress upon rice importers and consumers that balance must be maintained between rice supply and rice demand,” he added. He said the national government should also impress upon rice importers that it still has enough police powers and administrative powers to crack down on hoarding, smuggling, price manipulation and economic sabotage. “It is important therefore to prosecute pending cases of economic sabotage, smuggling and price manipulation to prove these powers still exist. The clear message must be sent that it is not good business to create artificial rice shortages now or anytime in the future,” he said. In a video interview on Thursday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said the country’s rice supply situation is in ‘good shape,’ as he noted that the government is implementing measures to control the price of rice. ‘Hindi tayo magkukulang sa bigas. At tinitingnan natin lahat ng paraan upang ang presyo ay ma-control natin at hindi naman masyadong tataas (We won’t have rice shortage. And we are looking at different ways to control the price so that it wouldn’t increase that much),’ Marcos said in a video interview. Under the DA 2023 supply outlook, the country’s total supply is at 16.98 million metric tons (MMT), which is sufficient to cover this year’s demand estimated at 15.29 MMT. Based on this data, the DA said the country would have an ending balance of 1.69 MMT, which is equivalent to 45 days of buffer stock, instead of the 90-day ideal buffer stock to stabilize the price of rice. Marcos, however, pointed out that the NFA should build up its buffer stocks sourced from both the local farmers and importations. The NFA is proposing the importation of 330,000 MT of rice to cover an expected deficit in the country’s buffer stock for the relief operations of various agencies in the event of calamities this year. Agriculture officials said the proposed buffer stock of rice is equivalent to nine days of national consumption from July 2023 onwards and will ensure sufficient volume for calamity and relief requirements from July to December this year

Source: Philippines News Agency