DA to assist NFA in palay procurement
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) have agreed to join hands in strengthening the local palay procurement program to fill up the buffer stocks requirements of the food agency and at the same time ensure support prices to Filipino rice farmers in the countryside.
“NFA Administrator Jason Aquino and I, as Secretary of Agriculture, reached this agreement during an informal meeting in Malacañang as we were waiting for the arrival of President Rodrigo Duterte for his scheduled consultation with rice traders and members of the defunct NFA Council,” Piñol said.
The inter-agency cooperation agreement, which is expected to be formally signed next week between the Agriculture Secretary and the NFA Administrator, includes several provisions.
Under the deal, the DA, through its Regional Offices, will identify areas where buying prices of palay are considerably lower and controlled by traders and middlemen, while the NFA will focus its palay buying operations in the areas identified by the Agriculture Department.
The NFA will also provide a space or an area in its buying stations so that the DA could establish drying facilities which the farmers could use for free provided they sell their produce to the NFA.
The DA will likewise offer incentives to farmers groups, cooperatives or associations who will sell their palay produce to the NFA by prioritizing these groups in the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) program of up to P50,000 per farmer-member at 6% per annum payable in one year.
The NFA, which is mandated by law to ensure a enough buffer stocks of rice for Filipino consumers, buys both from Filipino farmers at P17 per kilo “clean and dry” and also imports from Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia or Pakistan.
Lately, however, the NFA has complained it could not match the buying price of rice set by local traders who buy locally produced palay at P20 to P24 fresh.
This has made the NFA dependent solely on importation to fill up its requirements for a 15-day buffer stock which it uses to stabilize prices in the market and to respond to calamities and emergency situation.
As of today, the NFA still has about P7 billion of unused funds intended for local palay procurement.