GOVERNORS of the top rice and corn producing provinces were encouraged to purchase the staples directly from farmers in order to help prop up farmgate prices during the harvest, with the Department of Agriculture pointing to the availability of government credit for such purchases.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar asked Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Iloilo, Camarines Sur, Tarlac, Negros Occidental, Maguindanao, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Leyte to help normalize prices of the two commodities.

Mr. Dar said the 12 provinces combined produced more than 9.74 million metric tons (MT) of palay last year, accounting for 51.8% of national output.

“Their direct procurement will significantly shore up the national average farmgate price of palay, thus helping more farmers,” Mr. Dar said.

According to Mr. Dar, provinces can apply for loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) for palay direct purchases and machinery procurement, including equipment for post-harvest facilities.

“We have been closely working with LANDBANK to provide accessible and affordable credit not only to farmers, fishers, and agripreneurs, but also to LGUs under the bank’s PAlay aLAY sa Magsasaka ng Lalawigan (PALAY ng Lalawigan) Program,” Mr. Dar said.

The program, which was launched in 2019, had initial funding of P10 billion and benefited farmers in Isabela, Nueva Ecija, and Camarines Sur.

Mr. Dar has directed the National Food Authority to make its warehouses available for the use of LGUs and farmers’ cooperatives and associations.

“As the country’s rice farmers start reaping this year’s main rice crop, we count on the continued support of our ‘food security czars’ in partnership with farmers nationwide. Directly buying their palay is a win-win situation — giving them reasonable income for their harvest and ensuring an adequate supply of rice for consumers in their localities,” Mr. Dar said.

During the third week of August, the Philippine Statistics Authority said the farmgate price of palay was at P18.39, while the farmgate prices of yellow and white corn grain were at P13.03 and P14.44, respectively. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave