The local National Food Authority (NFA) is urging farmers in Palawan to relay their demand for a higher buying price for their palay (unhusked rice) to the national government.
Maria Lewina Tolentino, NFA provincial manager, said the farmers themselves have the power to make the national government change its mind over the current buying price of P17.00 compared to the P18.40 to P20.29 farm gate prices that private traders offer.
“Mas pipiliin ko na manggaling sa kanila na ito ‘yong sana mangyari para kami (the farmers) ay makapagbenta sa NFA. Kami rin naman ay ipinaparating namin pero ‘yon ay sa effort ng NFA. Iba kung sila mismo ang magpapadala ng kanilang hinaing sa mas nakatataas,” she said.
Tolentino said the government might reconsider if the farmers themselves will insist for a higher buying price of palay so the NFA could purchase from them.
She said if the farmers believe it is now time to increase the palay buying price to ensure better procurement of domestic stocks, they can organize and write the national government.
“Kung sa palagay nila kailangan na bilhin na lang ‘yong sa farmers kesa mag-import at a higher price, ‘yon ay desisyon na kailangan nilang gawin sa lalong madaling panahon. Kasi hangga’t hindi natin binabago ang presyo na hinihiling ng mga magsasaka, mahihirapan tayo,” she admitted.
Tolentino said the NFA has a proposal in July for a P8 increase which would raise the current P17 price to P25, but its approval is still pending before the National Economic and Development Authority’s (NEDA).
The NEDA is currently studying the proposal’s impact on the purchasing value of money.
She said the buying price of palay is an inter-agency committee decision and not on their agency.
“Kaming mga nasa field offices, kami ang nakakakita ng higit na pangangailangan sa NFA. Tulad na lang sa panahon ngayon na masyadong malayo ang presyo ng commercial [rice] sa ating bigas na NFA, kung walang NFA saan bibili ang mga tao ng ganoon kamura at de kalidad na bigas?” she pointed out.