Farmers who claim that their unhusked rice (palay) were being bought at P7 a kilo can proceed to the National Food Authority (NFA) which buys at a higher price, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.
“Kung sino man yung mga farmers na nagsasabi na P7 to P8 per kilo na ang presyo nila at malulugi na, sabihin lang yung pangalan at address. Dalawang linggo na kami nananawagan hanggang ngayon wala naman, meaning may nanggugulo, may nagte-take advantage ng sitwasyon at talaga naman hindi sila tumitigil (Farmers who say that their palay is being bought at P7 to P8 a kilo, will just have to us give their names and addresses. We have been announcing this in the past two weeks but up to now, no one has approached us),” Dar said at the 6th Regional Organic Agriculture Congress and Farmers’ Forum at the Benguet Argi Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC).
“The NFA is buying palay at P19 a kilo.”
The Agriculture Secretary said the National Food Authority under the DA is buying “palay” at P19 a kilo.
“So what we did, was to add P2 to the palay support price of P17 becoming P19 per kilo of dry palay,” Dar said.
He added that wet unhusked rice is being bought by NFA at P15 to P16 a kilo, which is double than what some traders offer.
Dar said government does not stop in coming up with measures to improve the lives of farmers.
For instance, he said the P2.5-billion fund of the agricultural policy council of the DA can be availed of by rice farmers who till 1 hectare or less in the form of a loan.
Dar said farmers can avail of a P15,000 loan for a hectare of land payable in eight years, at zero interest.
“We do not want to give dole out so that our farmers will continue to have their self-esteem and dignity.”
“Ayaw naman natin na ibigay ng libre para hindi naman mawala ang self-esteem at dignidad ng ating farmers (We do not want to give dole out so that our farmers will continue to have their self-esteem and dignity),” he said.
A farmer only needs to set aside P1,850 a year to cover the payment of the loan, Dar said.
He also said that those who will avail of the loan will be assured of market for their rice produce.
“NFA will buy their production,” Dar said.
He said the NFA has a capitalization fund of P7 billion, which they can use in buying the production of the farmers. They can also increase their capacity to buy by revolving the fund on three rice cropping season to triple their money.
Dar also pointed out that they are encouraging local government units to go into rice economic enterprise.
“We are asking the provincial also the municipal government to go into the whole rice chain as their economic enterprise,” he said.
The Landbank has a P10-billion fund that it can lend to the local governments that will engage in the rice chain at 2 percent interest per year payable in three years.
Ifugao Governor Jerry Dalipog, in an interview on the sidelines of the event, said they are already engaged in the economic enterprise, which is part of the rice terraces conservation movement.
“We commission people to plant and protect the rice terraces by planting heirloom rice on them. Once harvested, we buy what is produced in the rice paddies of the terraces and the proceeds are shared with the one who planted and the owner of the lot just so we can entice people to plant, which is the essence of the tourism of Ifugao,” Dalipog said.
Dar said he has ordered the NFA to bring out and start selling the 3.4 million bags that are included in the country’s buffer stock and stored in different warehouses.
This will assure that the NFA will have enough money to buy the rice production harvest where the bulk will be harvest in October and November.
This will also make sure that the warehouses will be free and can accommodate those that will be bought from the farmers during the coming months’ harvest.
He said rice prices at the market range from P35 to P45 a kilo but the government aims to bring it down for P25 to P27 a kilo.
Dar also said “when there is enough rice supply, it significantly reduces inflation.”
He stressed there will be no importation allowed during harvest months, to assure that the market will not be flooded and the local production be prioritized for local consumption.