BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
About P142 million was allocated by the National Food Authority in Negros Occidental for its palay procurement program this year.
NFA provincial manager Epifanio Cosca said the agency targets to procure 120 to 150 bags of palay or about 7,500 metric tons to augment their buffer stock, adding that they are buying clean and dry palay for P19 per kilo.
But Cosca said their target may be affected in case the buying cost of commercial traders will be higher than that of the NFA, although at present, the prevailing buying price of palay in the commercial market is still at P16 per kilo.
He said that they have intensified their campaign on palay procurement and have, so far, bought about 1,000 bags since January. It hopes to attain the target palay procurement during the mid-crop season that is between August and October, or November.
Cosca added that more farmers have already signified their intention to sell their produce to the agency.
The NFA-Negros Occidental currently has a buffer stock of 40,000 bags of palay, and 50,000 bags of rice in its four warehouses in Ilog town and the cities of Bacolod and San Carlos.
The buffer stocks are enough for a three-day consumption, but Cosca said that, if needed, they can also augment supply from the neighboring provinces in Panay.
He said the NFA has quality management teams assigned to distribute old stocks in the market, although the main priority is buffer stocking so there is enough supply to distribute during calamities.
The NFA has, in fact, distributed 160,000 bags of rice last year as part of the relief efforts of the government for those who have been affected by the ongoing pandemic, Cosca said.
PALAY PROCUREMENT INCREASE
The NFA’s palay procurement last year was higher compared to 2019 because the buying price of the commercial traders was lower than that of the agency.
The agency was able to buy 144,000 bags of palay last year while there was only 68,000 bags procured in 2019, or a difference of 76,000 bags, Cosca said. The NFA’s buying price is the benchmark of all commercial traders as well, he also said.
Cosca assured that the palay procurement this year will not be affected by the recent flooding in Negros Occidental.
The severe flooding resulted in P30 million losses for the rice sector, or 1,488.56 hectares of rice fields destroyed, affecting 2,336 farmers. Cosca said the NFA is helping farmers but they also need to do their share by ensuring that the produce that they sell are clean, dry, and in good state.*