THE NATIONAL Food Authority (NFA) said Monday that its purchases of palay, or unmilled rice, breached the 3-million-bag mark, bringing total procurement to 3.073 million bags in the four months to April, when its mandate shifted to buying solely from domestic farmers.
In a statement, the agency said that the four-month total was 5,539.5% more than the bags procured during the same period last year, when it bought 55,509 bags from farmers in the Philippines. It said selling interest was boosted by its attractive buying price.
“This is not surprising because of the high price being offered by the food agency and the more farmer-friendly procedures we have adopted,” NFA Officer-In-Charge Administrator Tomas R. Escarez said.
The NFA is buying palay at P17 per kilogram (kg), plus an additional buffer stock incentive of P3/kg; drying incentive of P0.20/kg; delivery incentive of P0.20/kg; and cooperative development incentive fee (CDIF) of P0.30/kg.
All in all, the total buying price is at P20.40/kg for individual farmers, and P20.70/kg for members of farmer cooperatives selling clean and dry palay to the agency.
The NFA’s importing function has been taken away by the Rice Tariffication Law, leaving it with maintaining a buffer stock from domestic purchases of rice.
According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the average farmgate price of palay during the third week of April declined by 1.12% to P18.48/kg, with domestic prices under pressure from the threat of competition from cheap imported grain.
The NFA has also simplified the procurement and payment procedures to encourage more farmers to sell their harvest to the agency, thereby helping it fulfil its mission of maintaining a 15-30 day buffer stock under the new law.
Mr. Escarez said that the agency has raised its maximum cash payment to P300,000 for palay bought from individual farmers and cooperatives, typically paid on the same day.
He also noted that farmers can be paid in cash for palay deliveries worth up to P300,000, while cheque payments will be made for those with shipments between P300,000 and P500,000.
A farmer selling to the NFA is required to obtain a passbook to confirm his eligibility. Passbook applicants need to submit a farmer’s information sheet with ID picture, and a certification from his barangay captain, municipal agriculturist, municipal agrarian officer or the National Irrigation Administration office where his farm is located. On the other hand, a master passbook is needed by farmer organizations which need to submit certificates of registration, assembly resolution and a master list of members.
A walk-in farmer can sell only up to 200 bags in his first transaction, after which he will require a passbook.
On average, the NFA buys the equivalent of seven hectares’ worth of output from each individual farmer and each member of a farm cooperative.
“We have 303 buying stations and terminal warehouses strategically positioned nationwide especially in rice-producing areas to accept palay deliveries from farmers,” Mr. Escarez said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang