MANILA, Philippines – National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino has appealed to local farmers to sell their palay to the government agency to help replenish the government’s rice buffer stock.
“Although we have directed our field managers to intensify our palay procurement especially in remote areas, our low procurement price hinders us from buying more,” Aquino said in a statement on Thursday, February 22.
He added: “So we are appealing to the farmers to help us also. It is not only the task of NFA to ensure food security of the nation, it is the task of everybody, and surely, we cannot do this without the help of our local farmers.”
The NFA reported this month that its inventory of NFA rice is running low despite the fact that there is no rice shortage in the country. The agency is required to keep a 15-day buffer stock at any given time, and a 30-day buffer stock by July 1 or the start of the lean months.
In an earlier press conference, Aquino said NFA cannot buy rice from farmers because their buying price, P17 per kilogram, is much lower than farmgate prices which range from P19 to P22 per kilogram.
The NFA council has since approved the importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice which Aquino said is another mode of replenishing their buffer stock. The importation is expected to arrive in June, or after the harvest season.
On Thursday, the NFA cited Philippine Statistics Authority’s estimate that this year’s summer crop will yield around 4.67 million metric tons of palay.
“If we can get at least 10% of this harvest, the NFA can continue to fulfill its commitment to relief agencies, local government, and may even bring back the P27/kilogram and P32/kilogram rice in the market,” Aquino explained.
Aquino said that from January to February, NFA has so far procured only 7,469 bags of palay from local farmers, mostly from Antique, Nueva Vizcaya, Bukidnon, and Catanduanes.
“We are hopeful that we can still buy enough from local farmers to augment our dwindling stocks for food security. This is very important since the arrival of the 250,000 [metric tons] of imported rice which we have requested has been set for June or about 4 months from now,” Aquino said.
The NFA said it has more than 400 buying stations, including 389 warehouses, in 87 provincial branches and 15 regional offices where farmers can bring their palay for sale. The agency said farmers may also coordinate with local NFA offices for the pick up of stocks they want to sell. – Rappler.com