Buffer Stock or "Qualified Hoarding?"

Govt Says Rice Self-sufficiency a Tough Goal
By Reuters

The Philippines, the world's biggest rice importer, may not be able to be self-sufficient in rice by 2011 as planned, but it aims to boost production substantially, the country's agriculture chief said. [...]

"The world is blaming us for pushing prices up," Yap said. "But the only reason we are the biggest buyer is because we decided to be safe with our buffer stock."

Yap said the Philippines would have a rice inventory of more than 30 days worth of consumption in government warehouses by the start of the lean production season in July.

The government paid an average of about $1,136 per ton of rice, cost and freight included, at its last successful National Food Authority (NFA) tender in April, up 60 percent from an auction the previous month.

It scrapped a May tender for 675,000 tons of rice and said it would let the private sector import its own requirement.

An auction for the right to import 141,440 tons rice is set for Tuesday for private traders.

Yap said the government would go back to the market to boost the state buffer stock when prices settled down.

"It's just a question of trying to buy at the right time and at the right price," he said, adding the government was closely monitoring domestic production. [...]

Click here to read full text.

It is not bad to stock rice that will last for 3 months - that is, if you are the NFA, because it is called "buffer stock", otherwise it is called "hoarding" or "panic buying" in some sense.

We are the world's biggest rice importer because NFA buys and "hoards" rice in order to maintain its x-month buffer stock.

Tracing back and analyzing the many years of NFA's operation, one would wonder if this old policy really helped the government? Or has it become one of the sources of corruption by some government officials (large commissions from importation) as alleged by Ka Jimmy Tadeo?

Maybe it would help the government if NFA's role in food security will be limited or minimized in some ways.