As the harvest season for rice farmers arrives, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is pressed to increase the selling price of palay (unmilled rice) to assist the country’s industry players amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a virtual conference on Thursday the key to hiking the selling price is to increase its demand.
Dar urged provincial local government units (LGUs) as well as the private sector to buy directly from their farmers.
“The LGU- and private sector-led palay and corn buying will complement efforts of the Department of Agriculture through the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy as much as possible from rice farmers using its 2020 PHP10-billion procurement fund,” he said.
Dar hopes to replicate the success of last year’s palay procurement efforts by provincial LGUs which was led by the top rice-producing provinces.
He said they were able to buy more than PHP30-billion worth of palay from farmers.
In a separate statement, the DA wrote to governors of the top 12 rice-producing provinces to buy palay from their farmers anew.
“We are encouraging them once again, led by Governor Rodito Albano of Isabela and Governor Oyie Umali of Nueva Ecija,” Dar added.
Aside from Albano and Umali, Dar had a personal talk with governors Matthew Joseph Marcos Manotoc of Ilocos Norte, Ryan Luis Singson of Ilocos Sur, Dennis Pineda in Pampanga, Daniel Fernando of Bulacan, Edwin Jubahib of Davao del Norte, and Nelson Dayanghirang of Davao Oriental.
Meanwhile, NFA administrator Judy Carol Dansal said they offer higher buying price of palay that are “clean and dry,” or those that they consider 14-percent moist, at PHP19 per kilogram, while palay bags with 30-percent moisture content are bought at a lower price of PHP14-PHP17 per kilogram.
“Our mandate in the NFA is to buy from farmers (to help them) and stock it for emergencies, calamities (to ensure supply of government food packs). Dapat ang binibili naming palay ay magandang klase na kasi nga iiimbak namin ito (We would prioritize palay of good quality because this is for storing). Mas maganda kasi na dried talaga ang paninda para ma-enjoy nila ang kanilang kita (It is really better if they sell dry palay so they can enjoy their profit),” she said.
The PHP10-billion procurement fund of NFA will enable them to buy some 10 million bags of unmilled rice, Dansal added.
For September, the NFA chief said they procured some 1,793,152 bags of palay, short of more than a hundred thousand bags to complete their targeted 1,931,200 bags for the month.
Since January, the NFA was able to buy 4,926,143 bags of their 9,463,150 bags target, which means it only accomplished 52.06 percent.
For the whole year, Dansal said they aim to buy 18,723,950 bags of unmilled rice from the farmers. (PNA)