THE National Food Authority (NFA) recorded its highest summer crop procurement in five years at 4.76 million bags.

In a statement, NFA said as of May 31, it has procured 238,427 metric tons (MT), which is 6,576% more than the 3,571 MT procured in the same period last year.

“We are happy that the more we buy, the more farmers gain higher incomes as farmgate prices continue to dip. Our procurement operations are done on a year-round basis, and we are ready to buy as long as farmers have palay to sell to us,” Tomas R. Escarez, officer-in-charge administrator of NFA, said in a statement.

The NFA’s buying price was increased starting October 2018 to P20.40 per kilogram (/kg) for individual farmers and P20.70/kg for members of farmer cooperatives or organizations from P17.40/kg and P17.70/kg previously.

It has also added a P3.00/kg buffer stocking incentive on top of the P0.20/kg drying, P0.20/kg delivery, and P0.30/kg Cooperative Development Incentive Fee.

“At the rate we are buying palay, we are optimistic the NFA will be able to effectively meet its buffer stocking requirements of rice supply good for 15-30 days or 15 to 30 million bags,” Mr. Escarez said.

The Rice Liberalization Law or RA 1120 shifted the focus of the NFA to buffer stocking for calamities and emergencies sourced mainly from local farmers.

The agency is preparing for the coming of the lean months from July to September when there is limited harvest and when natural calamities hit the country. Mr. Escarez said NFA field offices were already instructed to start their milling operations to make sure there will be enough supply for relief operations of the government.

The average farmgate price of palay or unmilled rice fell 0.5% week on week during the third week of May to P18.26/kg, the Philippine Statistics Authority said. — V.M.P. Galang