Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
Agriculture Secretary William Dar announced that an initial P53 billion from the public sector, composed of the National Food Authority, Department of Social Welfare, local government units and farmers’ federations, will be utilized to buy more palay at favorable prices this 2020.
Through the NFA, the Department of Agriculture intends to buy more palay starting this dry season through its support price of P19 per kilogram. This buying price is much higher than the prevailing price of palay which is currently at P15.62 per kilo and continues to decline due to the opening up of the rice market to cheap imports.
Dar has instructed NFA administrator Judy Dansal to go all out and make full use of its P7 billion annual procurement budget and roll it over by at least twice or up to P14 billion to benefit more farmers who are reeling from the impact of low farm gate prices.
We expect a more vibrant palay-buying and rice trading activities this year as the DSWD will distribute P600 worth of NFA rice instead of cash every month to each beneficiary of its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program,” Dar said. The DSWD intervention is worth P31 billion annually, a substantial amount that could help prop up palay prices.
Further, major provincial governments and big farmers’ federations will also continue to engage in palay buying and rice marketing operations. The DA is expecting about 30 major rice-producing provinces, led by Isabela and Nueva Ecija, to again buy from farmers directly. The provinces have committed to allot an initial P6 billion for the purpose.
The Rice Tarrification Law that is supposed to provide affordable rice prices for Filipinos may have partly achieved its goal of lower prices but its rushed implementation impacted on the country’s rice farmers negatively in the first year. Hopefully our government officials have learned their lessons and this P53 billion fund will be enough help rice farmers survive as they struggle to put the industry back on the path to relevance and profitability.*