By Anna Gabriela A. Mogato
THE National Food Authority (NFA) will be gearing up local palay — or unhusked rice — procurement following the three-month lean season.
State Grains Agency Administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino, in a statement issued on Tuesday, said that they have enough funds to procure rice from farmers. The agency did not, however, disclose the exact amount they have on hand.
Mr. Aquino also said that he had instructed NFA’s regional branches to go to farmers “especially in areas where the prices offered by private traders are below the government support price.”
“We have also simplified some of the requirements and the procurement process to encourage farmers to sell their produce to the agency,” he said.
The NFA has 279 buying stations for both farmer organizations and individual farmers to sell their crops. At P17 per kilogram (kg), the agency’s buying support price for clean and dried palay remains lower than that offered by private traders.
Recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that, as of Aug. 1, NFA’s stock was only at 101,150 metric tons, taking up only 6.65% of the country’s total rice stocks.
The NFA reported having 75,753 bags of locally-procured rice as of Aug. 31.
The agency pointed to higher buying prices offered by private traders, leading farmers to sell to their produce to the private sector. In response, the NFA is batting to increase its buying price to P25 per kg to be able to compete with private traders.
“We are happy for our local farmers,” Mr. Aquino said. “They were the ones who have benefitted from the high price of palay, realizing higher incomes from their produce.”
“[But] NFA’s presence in the market is meant to stabilize and not to compete directly with private traders,” he said. “We are here to provide an alternative market for them when palay prices drop to prevent private traders from taking advantage of them.”