NFA eyes to buy 1.2-M bags of rice from local farmers

MANILA Exerting all efforts to beef up the government rice stocks from local produce, the National Food Authority (NFA) has so far procured a total of 19,361 bags, with 7,412 bags bought in March, at the start of the summer crop harvest.

NFA Administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino said NFA field offices are adopting innovative means to convince farmers to sell to the agency despite the big difference in palay buying price. NFA buys at a support price of PHP17 per kilogram for clean and dry palay, while private traders offer much higher prices.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released during the third week of March showed that the average farm gate price of palay has reached PHP20.40 per kilogram nationwide.

Our palay procurement for March was higher, with most of our purchases coming from our NFA branches in Northern Cagayan-Apayao, Mindoro, Zamboanga del Sur, North Cotabato, and Bukidnon, Aquino said.

Aquino also applauded the NFA employees in their relentless effort to buy palay from farmers in spite of the high buying price of commercial traders.

While our procurement is still below our target, it shows the result of our best efforts to buy locally produced rice. It is proof that our hard work and consistent information campaign among farmers nationwide are paying off, Aquino said.

Meanwhile, Aquino clarifies that the mandate of NFA is to provide a floor price for palay for farmers to get a reasonable return on their produce.

We intervene only if palay prices are low, so that farmers can recoup their investments. If prices are high, government intervention is not necessary. We want the farmers to earn and be competitive, the administrator said.

NFA hopes to buy more as the summer harvest peaks, with a procurement target of 1.2 million bags for the months of April and May. The PSA estimates an increase in this year's palay production for the summer crop at 4.67 million metric tons.

Our target is to buy at least 10 percent of the total harvest to boost our food security buffer stocks, and bring back the PHP27 and PHP32 per kilogram rice in the market, Aquino said. (NFA PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency