Jack C. Gadaingan
NAVAL, Biliran — Governor Rogelio Espina of this island province has ordered the creation of a rice watch team in every town to monitor the prices of rice in the local markets and how those prices evolved from their farmgate prices.
Espina is looking into possible cartel machinations that could be manipulating the supply and prices of rice in order to profit from a bad situation. He vowed to quickly solve the problem.
Aside from monitoring retail prices, the Rice Watch teams will also be tasked to monitor the movement of the grains from the palay crops that the farmers harvest up to the mills, and from the millers to the traders and retailers to find out how the price evolves – and who profits most.
The governor is disgusted by reports that commercial rice sells for almost P40 per kilo in Biliran when the province has long been sufficient in rice production and is even experiencing surplus harvests particularly with the implementation of the province’s Dad-dag Ani program.
The situation is aggravated further as there seems to be a shortage of the low-cost NFA rice which is the staple of the many poor families.
Espina said other provinces have no problem with the supply of low-cost NFA rice sold at about P18.25 per kilo.
“It is only in our province that there seems to be a shortage supply of the NFA rice,” said Espina.
The governor said he will be meeting soon with the manager of the National Food Authority to discuss the problem of rice supply and increasing prices.
“I’m just waiting for the availability of the NFA manager,” he said.