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article imagePhilippine imported rice rotting in warehouses due to oversupply

By Leo Reyes     Jul 30, 2010 in Food
Tons of imported rice are rotting in Philippine warehouses across the country due to an oversupply of the nation's staple food, according to the newly designated head of the National Food Authority (NFA)
Lito Banayao, who was tasked by the newly elected Philippine president Noynoy Aquino to put order in the operations of the NFA, said import orders by the previous administration had been extremely excessive, and hinted that corrupt officials may have been responsible.
"Our warehouses are filled. We are swimming in rice," Banayo told reporters at the presidential palace.
"I don't want to judge my predecessors. Whether culpability lies in incompetence or something worse, which is... corruption, the figures speak for themselves."
The rotting rice issue was brought to public attention during the state of the nation address Monday by the newly elected Philippine president.
The president criticised the administration of former president Gloria Arroyo for its failure to prevent rice stocks from rotting in NFA warehouses.
The Philippines ordered 2.4 million tonnes of rice from abroad in 2009 but most of it was due for delivery in 2010, according to the NFA.
The president hinted some corrupt government officials may have been involved in the procurement of large quantities from Vietnam and other rice producing Asian countries at a much higher price.
"Is this not a crime, letting rice rot, despite the fact that there are four million Filipinos who do not eat three times a day," Aquino said.
"When you're talking of volumes this high and when you're looking at the prices at which they were procured, which are often higher than world market prices ... I guess somewhere along the way, some people made a pile," he said.
The president ordered the new NFA administrator to determine the real cause of the oversupply and asked the Department of Justice to help in the probe.
Farmers and civil society groups on Friday called on the food agency to dispose of its surplus rice in the next two months by giving it away to the poor and selling the rest at the lowest price.
They say it would bring down the prices of rice in the Philippine market — which ranges from 18.25 pesos ($0.40) per kilogram for subsidized rice to around 60 pesos ($1.30) for high-quality rice.
More about Rice, Staple food, Rotting rice, Oversupply, Philippines
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