Agriculture Secretary William Dar has assured farmers nationwide that the Department of Agriculture (DA) will intensify its palay procurement program.
“We will continue to buy palay as high as P19 per kilo from our farmers to assure them of bigger earnings,” said Dar during an impromptu meeting with farmers in Tarlac City on September 14.
He even promised DA will do it at the village level.
The National Food Authority (NFA) offices nationwide, he said, will offer transport services for farmers who cannot deliver their produce to the warehouse. Dar concurrently chairs the NFA Council.
A big help
One farmer said that DA and NFA have been a big help, providing them assured and bigger income by buying their palay at a higher price than those offered by traders.
“Malaki po ang naitulong ng DA at NFA sa amin.” said Aldrin Cardenas, an engineer, and president of Sawat Overseas Workers and Family Association (SOWFA), based in Camiling, Tarlac.
Cardenas said his group also sells rice, in partnership with the DA-Kadiwa marketing program, to several outlets in Metro Manila since 2016.
Another farmer said their cooperative has been selling their palay to NFA for two decades now.
“Simula noong year 2000, hanggang ngayon, nagbebenta kami ng aming palay sa NFA dahil mas mataas ang presyo kumpara sa mga trader,” said Cesario Tabago, another engineer. He is the president of Sapang Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Tarlac.
His group, with 800 members, is the top seller of palay in the province.
The average daily procurement of NFA in Tarlac is 7,000 bags of palay, as of September 14. They will buy more, NFA Tarlac provincial manager Meanne Cenon said.
The warehouses at NFA Tarlac have a total capacity of 550,000 bags of 50 kg each, Cenon added.
NFA Region 3 Director Elvira Obaña said they target to buy 1,747,700 bags of palay from farmers in Central Luzon, starting this month until the end of the year.
To optimize the agency’s palay procurement fund, Dar has instructed the NFA to mill the palay then sell it.
Top rice-producing provinces
Dar urged all governors of top 12 rice-producing provinces to help NFA buy palay direct from the farmers. By doing so, they can help stabilize the prices.
The top rice producing provinces include Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Iloilo, Camarines Sur, Tarlac, Negros Occidental, Maguindanao, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Leyte.
These provinces, last year, produced over 9.74 million metric tons (MMT) of palay. It comprised over one-half of the country’s total harvest of 18.8 MMT.
“Their direct procurement will significantly shore up the national average farm gate price of palay,” said Dar.
Last year, 33 LGUs have rallied behind the DA, propping up palay prices nationwide. (with reports from Gumamela Bejarin/ DA-AFID)