By Chino Leyco
The Department of Agriculture raised the government’s buying price of palay and directed the National Food Authority (NFA) to bring down the price of rice by flooding the market with the staple food.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said he ordered the grains agency to unload some 3.6 million bags of rice to the market and ensure consumers can buy the Filipino’s staple food for P27 per kilo. The rice supply will come from NFA’s current stocks stored in warehouses around the country.
Dar also said palay farmers will have some relief this time after NFA’s palay support price was raised to P19 from P17 per kilo clean and dry.
According to the agriculture chief, the twin measures were approved by the NFA Council during an emergency meeting last September 10.
Dar, who chairs the council, has given NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal until October 10 this year to dispose of the stocks.
When sold at a retail price of P27 per kilo, the 3.6 million 50-kilogram bags of rice would amount to P4.86 billion, which the NFA can readily use to procure from farmers.
The P2 increase in palay price support could translate to 8,000 additional income per farmer, based on the current national average yield of four tons per hectare.
Earlier, Dar secured the commitment of 30 provincial governments to buy palay from their farmers directly.
The DA is also set to forge an agreement with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in which the latter will give rice instead of the P600 cash to beneficiaries of its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
DWSD has the option to buy either from the provincial governments and the NFA, giving farmers an assured market for their produce either way.
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 policies to be set by the council.