Over 300,000 sacks of imported rice stuck in ports due to infestation

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Consumers in Central Luzon and the Bicol Region would have to wait a while for more imported rice deliveries due to an infestation (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila ( CNN Philippines, August 23) — Consumers in Central Luzon and the Bicol Region would have to wait a while for more imported rice deliveries due to an infestation, the National Food Authority (NFA) said Wednesday.

The NFA reported that a rice weevil or bukbok infestation has stalled the delivery of over 300 thousand sacks of imported rice. Around 177 thousand sacks are held up in a port in Subic while 133 thousand bags remain in a port in Albay.

These sacks are currently undergoing fumigation which will cause delays in unloading, NFA Spokesperson Rex Estoperez said.

"Maaapektuhan kasi madedelay na naman yung iyong unloading kasi magfu-fumigate ka," he added.

[Translation: It will be affected. The unloading will be delayed because they would have to be fumigated.]

Estoperez added that he stands firm in stalling deliveries until all infested stocks are fumigated to avoid infesting more supplies.

"If there's presence of infestation, at the expense ng supplier they have to fumigate. On vessel ang fumigation," he said. "Hindi natin dadalhin sa bodega yan before we fumigate kasi baka mamaya niyan kumalat ang infestation."

[Translation: We will not bring them to the bodegas before were fumigate because the infestation might spread.]

The news comes after reports of continued increase in prices of rice due to shortage. Zamboanga City was put under a state of calamity on Tuesday for local governments to control prices and to access calamity funds.

READ: State of calamity declared in Zamboanga City due to rice shortage

The prices for commercial rice have reached 77 pesos per kilogram in the city's markets, beyond the NFA's expected price of 42 pesos per kilogram. Estoperez said the NFA initially thought commercial rice was priced at most 54 or 56 pesos per kilogram.

"Kasi pagkakaalam namin 56, 54, commercial, pero kung sobrang special, 77, baka sinaing na 'yun," he said Wednesday.

[Translation: Because what we know is it's 56, 54 (pesos) for commercial (rice). If it's super special foor 77 (pesos), maybe that's already cooked.]

The NFA previously said it will step up its monitoring activities to ensure that NFA accredited outlets are selling the rice at the government price.

"The agency is mandated to stabilize the supply and prices of the staple especially in stricken areas as a result of a natural or man-made calamity or emergency," its statement on August 16 said.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.