SINAG urges govt to strengthen NFA
A farming sector interest group, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), today urged government to strengthen the National Food Authority instead of abolishing the agency as some in the Duterte cabinet have suggested.
SINAG also urged government to impose stringent measures in the accreditation, monitoring and issuance of import permits of rice importers.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol has been blaming traders for the depressed farm gate prices of palay and the high price of rice in the market and is seeking to address the problem by empowering farmers by providing them with post-harvest facilities and better access to consumer markets.
In a statement, SINAG said “there is also a need to strengthen and impose tougher measures in the regulation of rice imports-including the proliferation of smuggling and the weeding out of unscrupulous traders and importers who have used farmers’ cooperatives as dummies under the private sector rice importation scheme to corner the bulk of rice imports.”
According to SINAG, the rice permits allocated to farmers’ cooperatives are bought by unscrupulous rice traders to bring in imported rice at significantly lower tariff rates. SINAG also said that it was when private traders were allowed to import that rice smuggling flourished.
“Majority of our senators and the heads of pertinent government agencies were one in the conclusion that it is more expedient, beneficial and advantageous for the country to have the NFA as the sole importer of rice,” SINAG said.
“More importantly, as the sole importer of rice; the NFA can also safeguard and guarantee that its mandate of having fifteen (15) days buffer stock of rice for the entire country and seventeen (17) days in critical areas can be met at any given time,” SINAG added.