CENTRAL LUZON FARMERS' CO-OPS TO IMPORT RICE

Cabanatuan City, May 26, 2003   At least 179 farmers' cooperatives in 
Central Luzon may now import rice from top rice-producing countries after 
the National Food Authority (NFA), which previously had monopolized rice 
importation, granted them licenses.

Nicholas Crisostomo, NFA-Region 3 director, said the farmers' cooperatives 
have been issued licenses by the NFA central office, which also determines 
the allocation per cooperative.

Of the 179 cooperatives which may now import rice under the Farmers as 
Importers (FAI) program, 80 come from Bulacan, considered the country's 
cooperative capital; 42 from Tarlac, 23 from Nueva Ecija, six from Bataan, 
and four from Zambales.

Crisostomo said these cooperatives got the green light to import after 
meeting three requirements  an NFA license, financial statements and 
registration with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).

The approved rice imports total about 800,000 metric tons or roughly 16 
million bags, half of which will be handled by farmers' cooperatives.

Crisostomo said the first imports were to arrive last April but this was 
extended to May 31.

He said the grant of importation authority to farmers would mean additional 
income for them because they can engage in forward-selling. (By Manny 
Galvez, Star)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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