Binukbok! Nearly 200K sacks of rice rotting away while prices sour in Albay

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The National Food Authority (NFA)-Bicol is currently fumigating 186,000 bags of rice from Thailand that are still loaded on a cargo ship docked at the Tabaco Port, and which were found to have bugs locally known as “bukbok”. (Photo courtesy of NFA Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY — The National Food Authority (NFA) in Bicol bared on Wednesday that 186,000 bags of rice from Thailand still on board a cargo ship in Tabaco City are currently undergoing fumigation procedure after bugs called “bukbok” were discovered in them, a top official of NFA-Albay said.

“Normal na talaga na merong kulisap or bukbok na makikita natin sa mga bigas kaya andyan yung mga expert natin from NFA, DA and the pest control personnel to check the quality assurance ng idenideliber na bigas. Kahit sa ating mga warehouses ay normal na rin na nakikita ang mga pesteng ito kaya we’re always doing fumigation. (It is normal to have insects in our rice, that’s why we have experts from NFA, DA (Department of Agriculture) and pest control personnel to check the quality of rice. Even in our warehouses, it is normal to have these that’s why we do fumigation),” said Engr. Alan Sabaybay, NFA provincial manager.

He noted that the said volume of rice forms part of the total 200,000 bags that recently arrived in Albay from Thailand.

The pests were observed after they were able to unload 14,000 sacks from the cargo ship, Sabaybay said.

“We have to temporarily stop the unloading after discovering that insects were crawling on top of piles of rice sacks inside the cargo vessel,” he said.

“We are hopeful that the 186,000 bags of imported rice from Thailand on board a cargo vessel docked off Tabaco Port which were earlier discovered to have ‘kulisap or bokbok’ will be unloaded on the first week of September,” he added.

The cargo ship from Thailand arrived last August 7 but because of unfavorable weather condition, the unloading only started last week, lasting only for two days until pests were seen crawling on some bags of rice.

Sabaybay said the fumigation process could be finished on September 1 or 2, after which the unloading process could resume.

Aside from the 200,000 bags of rice that arrived at Tabaco Port, another cargo ship loaded with 164,000 bags of rice from Thailand is expected to arrive on August 25.

Meanwhile, Sabaybay admitted that despite the overflowing stocks of commercial rice in the region, the selling price in the market is still a little high because of the limited supply of NFA rice in the markets.

The prices of commercial rice in the market range from P39-P40 per kilo for regular milled and P42-P43 pesos for the well-milled.

Because of limited stocks in the NFA warehouses, they are trying to stretch the available stocks by giving only 20 bags per week per retailer, Sabaybay said.

“We also established stationery outlets in selected areas especially in villages with most of numbers of indigent families in the province of Albay that are called ‘tagpuan’ selling P27 of rice and allocating 50 bags every day,” he said.

Albay is only allocated 36,000 bags of rice for August.

Sabaybay is hoping that the prices of commercial rice would go down by September. (PNA)