Duterte to DA: Increase NFA rice buffer stock, buy local grains
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Department of Agriculture (DA) to increase the National Food Authority’s (NFA) rice buffer stock good for 60 days by purchasing locally-farmed grains, according to DA Secretary Manny Piñol.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference Wednesday noon, Piñol said that Duterte does not want Filipinos to think that there is a shortage of rice. Moreover, the President wants to prevent people from queuing up just to buy affordable rice variants, according to Piñol.
“During our meeting with the President, he instructed us to make sure that this incident, where medyo kinapos ng buffer stock ang NFA, should not happen again,” Piñol said.
NFA’s current buffer stock supply is available for up to 15 days, which is actually considered a normal situation. The President, however, wants to secure food supply, hence the orders to increase the amount of stocked grains.
Piñol added that the President’s directive to prioritize local grains is a win-win situation for NFA and Filipino farmers.
“If NFA focuses on buying locally, syempre stabilized ‘yung buying price ng palay, and of course kapag local ang bigas, mas maganda ang quality,” the secretary said.
Buying price and incentives
However, Piñol bared that there is still a discussion on whether the buying price would be increased for NFA to compete with local farmers. NFA buys freshly harvested local grains at 17 pesos per kilo, while commercial traders purchase it at around 22 pesos per kilo. To counter high prices, Piñol said that DA and NFA will identify provinces selling rice at a lower value, to “focus buying operations on these areas.”
DA also offered to help farmers, such as allowing free usage of drying facilities in exchange for selling their products at a lower price. Piñol also said that the department would prioritize NFA clients in their “easy-access” loan program, where farmers can borrow 15,000 pesos to 50,000 pesos per hectare of farmed land.
“So maski 17 (per kilo) lang ang bili ng NFA, naka-save na ‘yong farmer doon sa drying fee,” Piñol said.
Drying fees cost around one peso per kilo, according to DA.
To further help clients and cooperatives who deliver grains, DA would employ a rewards system, where clients will earn points corresponding to the amount of grains delivered to NFA. Accumulated points may be converted into a specific equipment necessary for farming.
Piñol said that if the NFA cannot reach the 60 day buffer stock supply despite all these efforts, only then will the agency import rice from other countries. /je