NFA to buy same level of palay this year

Published March 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


Agriculture Secretary William Dar wants National Food Authority’s (NFA) palay procurement for this year to be at the same level as last year’s, which was valued at ₱14 billion.

Dar said that NFA, an attached agency to the Department of Agriculture (DA), will continue to have a critical role in addressing the low palay prices, which was one of the negative impacts of Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act (RA) 11203.

“We are again strengthening the measures. Last year, ₱14 billion worth of palay was bought by NFA. We expect the same amount for this year,” Dar said.
Through a roll-over scheme, NFA purchased as much as 760,000 metric tons (MT) of rice last year, some of which was sold and distributed simultaneously so that the state-run grains agency won’t face an oversupply. This is also despite the fact that the agency only had a budget of ₱7 billion.

Last year, NFA was stripped off of its regulatory functions as part of the implementation of RA 11203. Its role was reduced to buffer stocking for calamities and national emergencies.

But because palay prices extremely went down and the overflowing supply of imported rice failed to significantly bring down the retail cost of rice in the local market, NFA still continued to buy palay at ₱19 per kilogram (/kg) as well as sell rice at ₱27/kg in select poor areas in the country.

At that time, the agency’s daily average procurement rate was recorded at 125,754 bags per day. NFA also relaxed its requirements so more farmers will be able to sell to the agency.

At present, individual farmers can sell a maximum of 200 bags on their first walk-in transaction with the NFA. They only need to fill up a Farmer’s Information Sheet (FIS) for records purposes.

Due to the high volume of palay deliveries in NFA warehouses and buying stations, the food agency was also prompted to lease private warehouses for extra storage. This was the case in Abra, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Eastern and Western Pangasinan as of November last year.

Dar said that streamlining of NFA’s operations as part of RA 11203 will finish within this year. It was in May last year, two months after the implementation of RA 11203, when the restructuring at NFA began. As much as 839 NFA employees were supposed to be retrenched.

On international rice trading, NFA has stopped processing of documents for rice importation and issuance of rice import permits for private importers as well as the conduct of bidding for government importation.

On the domestic front, the NFA also ceased licensing and registration of grains businessmen, monitoring and inspection of rice businesses and facilities, and enforcement of grains trading rules and regulations, among others.