July 16, 2024

The Department of Agriculture urged members of the vulnerable sector to follow the 10-kilogram purchase limit per household per month for the Bigas 29 Program, or the sale of P29 per kg of aging but good rice from the National Food Authority.

This came after several buyers in Kadiwa sites reportedly queued up multiple times and exceeded the purchase limit during the DA’s trial sale.

“We want more people to benefit from the Bigas 29 Program. We want to reach as many vulnerable sectors as possible,” Asec. Arnel de Mesa said, referring to the program’s upcoming rollout in July.

He said about 6.9 million households or 34 million individuals from the vulnerable sector – including beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), persons with disability, solo parents, and senior citizens – are targeted to benefit monthly.

Salvacion Atutubo, a senior citizen, however, said the limit is low for households with many family members.

“It’s inadequate for seven mouths to feed. Ten kilos are not enough for one month. Rice is so expensive nowadays, of course, you will buy the cheaper rice here,” she said in an interview after buying 15 kg of rice in separate purchases.

De Mesa, however, clarified Bigas 29 is just a supplemental option for families amid the high retail prices of rice.

“It is not designed to replace their actual requirement per month. It is just a form of assistance to reduce their expenses,” he said.

De Mesa assured challenges in the trial sale are being noted in finalizing the rollout mechanics of the Bigas 29 program, which may be released before the end of June.

Besides presenting identification cards or authorization letters in case of representatives, the DA will also be more stringent in monitoring buyers to prevent excess purchase or unauthorized use of IDs.

“We will call them out first because we don’t want to cause any commotion in the queues. It would be better to have video recordings to see if they are really returning repeatedly. Our worry is that, there were instances of individuals coming back in the line, making repeated purchases, then they sell the rice,” de Mesa said.

He said the program’s mechanics would be posted in all Kadiwa Centers for a wider information dissemination campaign.

Overall, the NFA targets to sell 69,000 metric tons of subsidized rice in Kadiwa stores per month. – PNA