By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Nancy Binay on Friday urged Malacañang to review the National Food Authority’s (NFA) existing policy of buying rice from local farmers.
Binay made the call as farm-gate prices of unmilled rice continue to rise.
“It’s already September and its harvest time. By practice, NFA is supposed to buy palay from our local farmers and producers,” Binay pointed out.
“But with farm gate prices at P23 per kilo average, di makagalaw ang NFA kasi allowed lang sila sa buying price ng palay na between P17 and P20 per kilo,(NFA cannot move because they are only allowed to buy rice that costs between P17 and P20 per kilo),” the senator said.
Last April, the NFA requested to the NFA Council that they be allowed to buy palay at P25/kilo but Malacanang gave them a ceiling of P20.”
“NFA is the ready-buyer of our local farmers kaso di sila makagalaw since napakababa ng buying price na binibigay sa kanila ng NFA Council (they cannot do anything because the NFA Council set a lower buying price for them),” she said.
“Huwag nating kalimutan na kailangan natin tulungan ang ating mga magsasaka at maliliit na rice producers (Let’s not forget that we also need to help out farmers and our small rice producers),” added Binay.
“Kahit liberalized na ang merkado, di natin pwedeng hahayaan na lang ang malalaking traders ang magdikta ng presyo ng bigas, (even if the rice importation has been liberalized, we should not allow the big traders to dictate the price of rice),” she reiterated.
She said the Palace should now intervene and push the NFA Council to be sensitive enough in helping local farmers while striking a balance between importing rice and buying locally.
“Mahalaga ang role ng NFA rice. Di po natin pwedeng ibalewala ang interes ng mga magsasaka (NFA has an important role to play. We cannot ignore the interests of our farmers),” the lawmaker emphasized.
“At di rin natin pwedeng hayaan na lang ang local traders na kontrolin ang suplay ng bigas lalo na pagdating ng kalamidad, (and we cannot let the local traders control the rice supply especially during calamities),” Binay stressed.