THE inspection of rice traders' warehouses should be done on a regular basis instead of when there is a seeming shortage of rice already, said the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) president.
Last week, the national news were filled with the frustration of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol over rice traders in the country who fake rice shortages in the country resulting in unstable rice prices in the market.
Because of this, Piñol wanted to ensure tighter control of the government of the rice industry specifically of rice trade and importation.
He said these unstable prices are brought about by lack of government control, as well as the subsidy for production and marketing of rice in the country.
The unstable rice prices are despite the Philippines' increased palay production of 9.36 percent to 19.28 metric tons (MT) in 2017 from only 17.63 MT in 2016, as per data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
There was, however, a decrease of 9.45 percent for the palay production of the entire Davao Region to 103,522 MT in the last quarter of 2017 from 114,320 MT for the last quarter of 2016.
In Davao City, DCCCII president Arturo Milan said the inspection of rice traders' warehouses should be done regularly.
"For me, it should be done religiously. It's not only whether there is seeming shortage of rice but it should be an ongoing concern of government agencies tasked to monitor rice supply. This is to assure people that they have this rice available for all. That's why the National Food Authority (NFA) was created to at least balance the selling of the private sector. If there is alleged hoarding, then the NFA can really push for the supply and not to create artificial shortages in the market," Milan said.
In an interview with NFA Davao City assistant manager Maria Elaine Respecia during the first week of February, she said their office, which caters to Davao City alone, has about 30,000 bags of rice, which they would try to budget until the arrival of the next imported rice, which has yet to have a final schedule.
"In the grains industry in general, there is no shortage. You will notice that we are abundant in rice. Only the NFA rice have small quantity for now but for the commercial rice, we have a lot. It's because of the arrival of the private sector importation," Respecia said.