ILOILO CITY- Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on Tuesday that the National Food Authority (NFA) will buy palay from local farmers at P20.70 every kilo starting this October.
According to Piñol, who led the Visayas leg of the Food Security Summit in Iloilo, the NFA will buy farmers’ produce at P17 per kilo plus an incentive of P3.50 per kilo if the palay being sold by a farmers’ group or cooperative is clean and dry, and has below 14 percent moisture content.
He directed the Department of Agriculture (DA) to put up drying facilities in NFA palay buying stations so the farmers can dry their rice produce for free.
“We will provide incentives. Farmers associations or cooperatives who will sell their palay to NFA will be prioritized in the granting of Production Loan Easy Access program of up to P50,000 loan, and provision of farm machinery and even solar-powered irrigation,” Piñol told the municipal agriculturists present during the Summit.
According to the agri chief, the price of rice being sold in the market had dropped from P60 per kilo last week to P43 this time.
As he inspected the rice markets in La Paz, Iloilo City, there are still old stocks of rice being sold at P50 or more. However, the current farm gate price for palay is only P16 per kilo.
“This is unfair. This is an anomaly that this administration would not allow to continue,” Piñol underscored.
He gathered the Iloilo rice traders today and discussed some reforms that the DA and NFA will carry out in order to strengthen the country’s grain industry.
NFA’s new procurement program will be launched in Mindoro on Oct. 12, while stock buying of palay in Panay Island will begin on Oct. 19.
Piñol assured that the new procurement program will make things ‘easier’ for the farmers. “Farmers will right away receive their cash upon delivering their palay to NFA.”
He also stressed that imported rice shall be properly labelled and be sold at lower cost than that of the local produce.
“We will no longer allow the importation of fancy rice. We will only have four classifications of rice –regular milled rice with suggested retail price of P38 per kilo; well-milled rice at P40 per kilo; whole grain rice for P42 to P44 per kilo; and special rice at P49 to P49.50 per kilo,” he explained.
He added that the suggested retail prices for rice in the market will be implemented by the last week of October.
“We need to come up with a fair price for the farmers’ produce, and fair price for the consumers,” he said.
He also said that rice sold in the market will be packed accordingly in a vacuum sealed bag. Meanwhile, bags or sacks for rice shall also be properly labelled identifying the net weight, period of harvesting, name of the farmers groups produced and contact number, date of milling, and a certification that it had passed the Quality and Food Safety Standards set by DA, NFA, and Department of Trade Industry.
Cancellation of licenses to operate will be the sanction for the traders and millers who will not implement the SRP for palay and those who will be reported for underweighing the supposed 50-kilogram bag of rice. #(Text by: SMHToreno; Photos by: AMPSusbilla/DA-RAFIS 6)