Rice in Every Plate
A Day in the Life of a National Food Authority (NFA) administrator revolves around upcoming reports of the harvest seasons and which grain-producing farm in the country to visit next. It also involves making sure that the price of rice is at an affordable level, distribution channels are on track and, more importantly, trying hard not to crack under the pressure of stress and paperwork.
No wonder the man who currently holds the position doesn't enjoy it one bit.
Arthur Yap says that there are two ways to describe 24 hours in the post: busy and busier. He is obviously stressed but somehow looks composed, neat with his close cropped hair and a blue NFA jacket over his long-sleeved shirt, always quick with a warm smile and a handshake. Only the constant ringing of his mobile phone and the stacks of paper on his desk give a hint of the scope of the job.
"I almost have a non-existent family and social life. I sometimes don't see my wife and kids for several months and I feel like I haven't slept in a long time. I'll be glad when I leave this office," he admits as he rejects another call on his cellphone. "I'm burned out and yet I have to ensure that everyone will still be able to afford rice tomorrow. So if anybody out there thinks that I'm enjoying this, they better think again. It's not a glamorous job."tric tons of ready rice but its production is only around 8.5 million. This is why the government still imports.
This is also why Arthur Yap is very keen to convert about a quarter of the four million hectares in the country used for the production of hybrid rice “to increase the yield variations.”
"Clearly, meron tayong one ive problems.
Many thought that the Iraq war and the July 27, 2003 mutiny would compound the problem even further, but the NFA came out okay—even in the months of zero rice production.
"The situation of the department and the price of rice are very stable. This despite the two crises that hit us last year. That's because maaga ang preparations namin. Just in case hindi maging sapat yung local production, we already knew how much to import from abroad," Yap says.
Since its inception in 1972 under the name National Grains Authority, its operation was to promote the integrated growth and development of the industry covering rice, corn, and other grains like sorghum, mongo, and peanut. It became the NFA in 1981 to widen its commodity coverage to include non-grain commodities and items like fresh, manufactured, and processed food products.
"We are vested with regulatory powers over the grains industry and tasked de Manila University and then readied himself to plunge into the world of law firms and businesses in the private sector.
"I come from a Tsinoy family with a business so it’s normal for me to love wheeling and dealing as a kid. We talked about business during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I never even expected to practice law, let alone work the government,”