Farmers’ group skeptical of DA, NFA’s solution to release 3.6M bags of NFA rice
MANILA, Philippines — A farmers’ group on Wednesday said that it was not fully sold on the Department of Agriculture’s order to lower the prices of National Food Authority (NFA) rice to P27 per kilogram by flooding the market with 3.6 million bags of rice.
“The DA and NFA are merely reacting to the grievances raised by farmers concerning the alarming decline in palay prices,” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairman Danilo Ramos said in a statement.
“Early on, farmers have clearly expressed demands for the government to buy palay from farmers at Php20 per kilo and the lowering of rice prices to Php27 per kilo,” he added.
DA Secretary William Dar previously said that the move will allow the department to buy palay from local farmers at a higher price, from P17 up to P19 of clean and dry palay.
Dar also ordered NFA Administrator Judy Carlo Dansal to dispose of the bags on or before Oct. 10.
With this, Ramos said that the DA and NFA should make sure that palay prices would not go down when they release bags into the market.
“Dahil makakasabay sa mga maagang mag-aani, ngayong Setyembre-Oktubre, baka gawing alibi na naman para hindi bilhin ang palay ng mga magsasaka. Dapat matiyak na bibilhin pa rin ng NFA ang palay ng mga magsasaka,” Ramos noted.
“Babantayan namin ang DA at NFA kung totoong bibilhin ang palay ng magsasaka sa Php19 pataas kada kilo at ilalabas ang murang bigas para sa mga konsyumer,” the farmers’ group chairperson added.
Based on the group’s monitoring, it has not seen any Php27 per kilo rice in the local markets, while the prevailing average farm gate palay prices remain at Php12 clean and dry per kilo as of the second week of September.
Palay harvesting season, the group said, peaks from the third week of October to the first week of November in palay producing areas.
Because of this, Ramos said at this point, the most “doable and beneficial thing to do” is to suspend the rice tariffication law.
The KMP also suggested that the Department of Trade and Industry must put a price cap on rice prices.
“Rice is a socially-sensitive commodity, it is within DTI’s mandate to ensure the affordability of prime commodities,” Ramos said.
“Even with the SRP, rice prices have continuously increased in the past months, which is in contrary to the government’s claim that rice prices and supply would stabilize under rice liberalization,” he added./ac
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.