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NFA procurement of palay from local farmers pushed

Both factions of the NFA Council should push the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy palay from the local farmer, according to the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag).

The umbrella group of farmers, agribusiness operators and party-list groups on Monday said it was the time to intensify the NFA’s palay procurement initiatives as the harvest season for the year’s first crop peaks this month.

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“At this time, importation of rice—whether by the private sector or the government—should not be taking up [the NFA Council’s] time,” Sinag chair Rosendo So told the Inquirer.

“The way things are unraveling, there is actually no differing position from the both camps—the majority faction of economic managers led by council chair Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco and the minority of NFA Administrator Jason Aquino and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol,” So said.

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He said both moves to import were detrimental to farmers, who were the sure losers in rice importation.

So said Sinag had no problem with importation per se, but not during harvest as the arrival of imports would bring down farmgate prices.

He said palay was now fetching about P18 per kilo at the farm, but this may drop to a low of P13 a kilo if foreign cargos jack up the supply in the domestic market.

Former Cabinet Undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Valdez, who was fired last week by President Duterte for allegedly insisting on importation through the private sector, said in a TV interview that the President may have a “misappreciation of the facts” as he apparently decided to agree with Aquino.

Valdez said there appeared to have been an “administrative glitch” as the will of the NFA administrator prevailed over that of the NFA Council, which had the authority to make the decisions.

She said the President may have not read a memo from the council.

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TAGS: National Food Authority, NFA Council, Philippine news updates, rice, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura
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