LGUs, private firms told to buy local rice, corn

Published October 2, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

With prices of the country’s two main staple foods significantly down weeks ahead of the peak harvest season, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is making another appeal to provincial local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to buy palay and corn directly from farmers.

Farm workers thresh rice during a harvest, in the barangay of Palattao, in Naguilian, Isabela province, the Philippines. Photographer: Nana Buxani/Bloomberg file photo

Farmgate prices of palay have reportedly dropped to between P11 per kilogram (/kg) to 13/kg for wet palay and P14/kg to 17/kg for dry palay.

This, while the average farmgate price of yellow corn grain went down to P12.32/kg or by 4.6 percent during the first week of September, from its level of P12.91/kg in the previous week.

Photo by DA-CAR.

Prices, according to the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), are expected to go down even more when harvests reach their peak in October and November for rice, while the peak harvest for wet-season corn crop is August and September.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the LGU- and private sector-led palay and corn buying should complement efforts of the DA, through the National Food Authority (NFA), in palay procurement.

For the rest of the year, NFA, whose sole mandate is to maintain the government’s rice buffer stock for calamities and national emergencies, has P10 billion left for palay procurement.

NFA Administrator Judy Dansal said this is enough to buy 10 more million bags of palay. 

“We already instructed NFA to roll-over twice its procurement fund so it could buy P20 billion-worth of palay this year,” Dar said.

NFA currently buys dried palay, at 14 percent moisture content, at P19/kg.

On Thursday, Dar asked NFA to make available its warehouses for use by farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) and LGUs.

“We will accelerate the modernization of the NFA’s drying and milling facilities so they could provide much-needed services for the benefit of our rice farmers,” he said. 

Further, the DA chief said provincial governments can avail of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) of up to P2 billion at two percent interest to procure palay and acquire farm machineries and post-harvest facilities.

“This should be part of the ‘new normal,’ where LGUs are taking a more pro-active stance by directly buying farmers’ produce – be these rice, corn, vegetables, chicken, eggs, fish and other farm and fishery products – at reasonable prices, and then including them in their food packs for their constituents,” Dar said.

This harvest season, the DA wrote the governors of the top 12 rice-producing provinces in the country to once again buy palay from their farmers.