An ordinance seeking to regulate the classification and minimum buying price for unhusked rice (palay) has been proposed at the Palawan provincial board to help farmers who are suffering from the alarming decrease in the buying price of their locally-grown harvests to as low as P8.
Board member Albert Rama, author of the ordinance, said Tuesday that his proposed ordinance hopes to protect the welfare of 37,249 farmers in Palawan who are already hurting because of the effect on their livelihood of the pandemic.
Rama said the current buying price is P13 per kilo, but this goes down most of the time to P8 when there is too much supply.
The average production cost is P12.93 per kilo and P12.29 per kilo for inbred and hybrid palay.
“This predicament of rice farmers has continued for many years resulting in high poverty incidence among the farmers,” Rama said.
Rama also said that RA 7581 or the Price Act was enacted to protect the consumers from price manipulation, however, there is no law to protect the producers or the farmers from the unreasonable low buying price of their palay.
Under the proposed ordinance, it will be prohibited for any person to buy palay below the prescribed minimum buying price.
On its Section 3, fresh palay will be P13 per kilo; skin dry is P15 per kilo, and ready for milling is P18 per kilo.
According to Rama, all palay traders will be required to apply for accreditation from the provincial government before they will be allowed to operate.
Local government units (LGUs) must also supervise the accreditation of the traders.
“It is quite unfortunate that our farmers, considered as the backbone of our nation, continue to be victims of economic and social injustice because the buying price of their products continues to dive below the production cost and yet the price of milled rice in the market remains high,” Rama said.
Any person found violating the ordinance will be penalized with an amount of not more than P5,000 or imprisonment of not more than one year or both upon the discretion of the court.
Section 5 of the ordinance proposes that within 15 days from the approval the Office of Provincial Agriculture (OPA) shall formulate the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the ordinance.
The proposed ordinance has been referred to the committee on agriculture for further discussion.