Amid farmers’ woes, NFA hikes palay prices, lowers rice retail costs
MANILA, Philippines – The National Food Authority (NFA) Council has approved lowering the prices of NFA rice to P27 per kilogram by flooding the market with at least 3.6 million bags of rice, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement on Thursday, Sept. 12, that the move, which would earn P4.86 billion for NFA — allows the agency to buy palay from local farmers at a higher price, from just P17 to P19 per kilo of clean and dry palay.
Dar, who chairs the NFA Council, said he also ordered NFA Administrator Judy Carlo Dansal to dispose of the stocks on or before October 10.
“The 2-peso increase in palay price support can translate to P8,000 additional income per farmer, based on the current national average yield of 4 tons per hectare,” the DA said.
Dar also noted that 31 local government units have committed to directly buy palay from farmers within their jurisdiction.
The DA was also looking at a partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which may distribute NFA rice instead of the P600 cash allowance to Pangtawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries.
“The DWSD has the option to buy either from the LGUs or from the NFA, providing farmers an assured market for their produce,” the department added.
Farmers have complained that the demand for locally-produced grains have been low, after the enactment of the Rice Tariffication Law, which opened the Philippine market to importation of foreign rice.
The law was authored by Senator Cynthia Villar, and was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last February. It was seen as a solution to high rice prices blamed on a shortage of NFA rice.
Lawmakers said that the measure has been a total failure, as it did not address the root cause of rice shortage and pressing needs in the farmlands.
A consumer group has warned that the continuous implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law may result in total market failure, as rice prices have yet to decrease significantly while the country is flooded with supposed substandard grains.
These problems have prompted the DA to urge NFA to study palay production cost side by side with the palay pricing.
“During the NFA Council meeting, NFA was also directed to undertake a comparative palay production cost study per region to come up with basis for a more responsive and precise rice and palay pricing policy to be set by the NFA Council,” DA explained./TSB
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