NFA urged to buy more rice from farmers

By Amy R. Remo

Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sept. 23, 2008


Farmers are urging the National Food Authority (NFA) to step up buying of “palay” [unmilled rice], as farm-gate prices have fallen to as low as P9 a kilo.


In a joint statement, the National Rice Farmers Council (NRFC) and the Rice Watch and Action Network asked the NFA to intervene by buying more palay at P17 a kilo, as the peak of the main harvest season is set to begin next month.


NRFC chairman Jaime Tadeo said farm-gate prices of palay were reported to have dropped to P9-P12 a kilo, compared with the average palay price during the last harvest season in May, which reached P16 a kilo.


“The situation now calls for NFA [to intervene] in palay procurement and forget about rice importation for the farmers’ sake,” Tadeo said. “We badly need to see the government’s presence in palay procurement as traders threaten to pull the prices of palay down to a level even lower than … P12 per kilo before the rice crisis.”


Rice Watch lead convener Jessica Reyes-Cantos said the government should start rescuing farmers, “after flooding the consumers with low-priced rice,” which led to the decline in market prices.


The two groups said palay farmers decried the sharp decrease in the buying price of the staple, citing further losses as cost of production has gone up particularly this main planting season mainly due to spikes in fertilizer prices.


Fertilizer prices have more doubled last month to P2,000 per bag from year-earlier levels. With these increases, Tadeo said, the average cost of production consequently rose 35 percent to P10 a kilo this planting season from its year ago level of only P7.40 a kilo.


Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said in an interview that the government would address the concern of farmers.


“[Over the] past three months, I have already told the NFA that we have to buy massively, a minimum, or at least 1 million metric tons,” Yap said.


Last week, the NFA announced that it would double its palay procurement target this year to one million metric tons, equivalent to 5.8 percent of the total target palay production this year of 17.3 million metric tons.


Yap earlier said he would want the NFA to buy from local farmers a volume equivalent to 10 percent of the total target palay output, or about 1.73 million metric tons. With editing by








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