NFA sets P20 buying price for palay in Nueva Ecija
SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ—The National Food Authority (NFA) is offering to buy palay at P20 a kilogram from farmers in Nueva Ecija province to entice them to sell their harvest to the grains agency.
Technically, the NFA is mandated to buy palay at P17 a kilogram, but the agency has been allowed to offer additional incentives of P3 representing a fee for buffer stocking plus 70 centavos to cover delivery and drying costs, according to Piolito Santos, NFA Central Luzon regional director.
NFA released P258 million to its regional office to buy palay and would add the incentives if cooperatives or associations could deliver much bigger volumes of the grain to the agency.
NFA has started to stock up on rice after suffering almost zero buffer stocks since April. Consequently, commercial rice prices soared in the absence of affordable NFA rice that stabilized retail prices in the market.
Last week, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said NFA had P7 billion to buy rice all over the country during the harvest season.
He said cooperatives and associations would also be given bonuses in the form of farm equipment like hand tractors, harvesters and solar pumps.
Despite calls from various sectors, including Congress, to raise NFA’s floor price, “the NFA Council did not approve an increase from P17 to P20 per kilogram but it approved [the] incentives,” said Piñol, who now chairs the NFA Council.
He said NFA hoped to buy 2.7 million bags (each weighing 50 kg) of rice to help bring down prices.
As soon as NFA announced its new prices, rice traders offered to buy short grain palay for P17 a kg and long grain rice for P19. A few days ago, traders were buying fresh harvests for P16 to P16.50 per kg.
For dried palay, the buying price of some commercial traders was raised to P21 a kg, according to Wilfredo Bernardo, a farmer, who sold his harvest to a trader.
Last week, consumers in Nueva Ecija lined up for rice distributed by NFA despite the start of harvest because commercial rice remained expensive in local markets. —ANSELMO ROQUE
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