Piñol tells Duterte to reject rice import plans of Jun Evasco, Jason Aquino: NFA should buy from Filipinos
Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol has advised President Rodrigo Duterte to reject the separate proposals of Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco and National Food Authority Administrator Jason Aquino to import rice in the middle of this year’s harvest season.
Pinol made the statement to debunk allegations made by a “dismissed Malacañang Undersecretary”, that he and Aquino have connived to create an artificial shortage to justify NFA’s rice imports.
Duterte fired Malacanang Undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Valdez,a protege of Evasco, last week for railroading the private importation of rice and ouster of Aquino from the NFA.
Pinol said that he does not support the proposal of Evasco to import rice through farmers and the proposal of Aquino import rice on a government-to-government basis because of the record harvest of paddy rice in the first quarter this year.
Pinol said he was opposed to Evasco’s proposal for farmers to import rice “ because most of the private sector importers are also traders who play with the rice market once they have the imported stocks.”
“For the first time in the history of the country, the national average yield per hectare is now at 4.15 metric tons per harvest, up from 3.9-metric tons. The First Quarter harvest is also 210,000-metric tons more than the same period last year. It is the position of the Department and mine as well that any importation at this time will result in the collapse of the buying price of paddy rice to the disadvantage of the farmers. In fact, I publicly proposed that NFA instead buy the produce of the farmers this season if its intention is to stock up buffer rice stocks,” said Pinol.
“ The differences that I have with Sec. Evasco and Adm. Aquino on the issue of importing rice by the private sector or the NFA do not mean that I have a quarrel with them,” said Pinol.
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