Tue. Jan 21st, 2020

Rice farmers get respite from palay price squeeze

Yamang Bukid Farm Palawan personnel pose with farmers of Narra town, Palawan whose palay the farm destination bought for double the prevailing farm gate price in an effort to help them amid plummeting prevailing prices of the staple grain. (Photos by JM Zap)

Farmers in a rice-producing village in Narra, Palawan have expressed gratitude to a farm tourism destination here for fulfilling their vow to buy palay from them at higher gate prices by giving away rice to neighbors.

At least 21 farmers from the village of Burirao benefited from the palay buyout scheme by Yamang Bukid Farm, which highlighted its campaign to help impoverished farmers in Palawan, which palay bought at double the current buying prices, according to Bro. George Maria, Yamang Bukid Farm Palawan (YBFP) vice president for community relations.

“We were able to gather some 21 farmers and each of them brought with them five sacks of palay,” said Brother Maria, adding they coordinated with the local government of Narra and the Department of Agriculture in identifying small-time farmers who may want to sell their harvest.

Some of the farmers whose palay harvest Yamang Bukid Farm Palawan bought in Narra, Palawan. (Photos by JM Zap)

The buyout scheme, Maria said, was the culmination of the farm attraction’s advocacy to help palay farmers adversely affected following the steep lowering of palay prices since late this year. Last month, YBFP kickstarted its campaign by launching a fun run with the aim of generating awareness and support towards the plight of palay farmers across the country.

That campaign dubbed “Run for the Farmers” generated massive support and a significant amount of money which was used for the palay-buying project.

In buying the palay, Maria said they ensured those who can benefit were really poor, lowly farmers.

“We challenged them to work hard and not view our initiative as a sort of dole-out,” said Maria.

In a simple ceremony, YBFP’s chief farmer, Totong Arceo, gave the farmer-traders inputs on organic farming “which they received overwhelmingly,” according to Maria.

“They even requested if we could come back in another time and share them more knowledge on the natural way of growing crops, which we promised to do,” said the YBFP executive.

The Farm bought a total of 105 sacks of palay at P20/kilo, double the current buying price, with the milled rice given back to the farmers.

Farmer Felix Gonzales of Narra, Palawan, hands a bag of rice to his neighbor. Gonzales is among 21 “grateful farmers” who sold to Yamang Bukid Farm Palawan some 105 sacks of palay at double the prevailing farm gate price. (Photos by JM Zap)

A mill owner in Narra, Norile Enriquez, agreed to give a 50-centavo/kilo discount to the farmers to have their palay husked and milled, which “helped significantly the farmers,” said Hope Alas, YBFP vice president for tourism affairs.

Upon learning of Yamang Bukid Farm’s generous offer, the farmers were ecstatic that one of them, Felix Gonzales, even gave away portions of the milled rice to his non-farming neighbors, shocking even the Yamang Bukid personnel.

“Mang Felix asked us to accompany him to his house where he repacked his milled rice and gave these away to his neighbors, particularly those who do not own a farm,” recounted Maria.

Other farmers also expressed intention to share their harvest to their community, in an apparent case of “paying it forward,” said Maria.

“We are thankful to all who supported us when we started this endeavor months ago, particularly to the hundreds of individuals who ran with us and believed in our advocacy of helping raise awareness about the sorry state of Filipino farmers,” said the YBFP executive.

“We are grateful that by doing business with a heart by living a life for others, we are now able to not just bring a message but enlist people who are willing to do the same mission as we’re in now, even if they come from diverse backgrounds,” Maria said.

“Our farmers now are inspired that they have us who are their allies in their effort to improve their lives through agriculture,” added Maria, a former seminarian.

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