[As dry harvest season peaks] Farmers to DA-NFA: Buy palay from Filipino rice farmers at P20 per kilo and up, continued importation will further hurt rice industry

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and its chapter Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon today strongly urged the National Food Authority (NFA) to procure more palay from local farmers at higher farmgate prices or at P20 per kilo and higher. “We reiterate our demand for the government and the NFA to buy palay from our rice farmers who are now severely affectedy by the lockdown and partial economic shutdown. The DA has allocated and additional P7-billion for the NFA’s rice producement fund to buy palay from local farmers under the ALPAS-COVID program. This fund should be fully-utilized for local palay procurement and the P8-billion budget for rice importation must be rechanneled to augment the existing local palay procurement budget. 

“The NFA must be decisive enough to procure at least 20 percent or 3.8 million metric tons (MTT) of palay from Filipino farmers to ensure the domestic rice stockpile and support farmers who are reeling from the damaging economic impacts of the COVID19 lockdown,” according to KMP.

According to DA, palay farmgate prices have gone up in seven regions: Region 10 – P25.35; Region 5 – P20.25; Region 1-P20.30; Region 2- P20.65; Region 7- P21.00; Region 12- P21.50 and Region 11- P22.93. However, according to the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon-Nueva Ecija, palay prices in Nueva Ecija have gone down from P20 last March to an average of P16-17 per kilo this April harvest season. Nueva Ecija is the top rice producer in Central Luzon, the country’s rice granary. “Mabuti at tumaas ang presyo ng palay. Ngayon dapat mamili ng mamili ang NFA ng palay mula sa mga magsasaka,” says KMP leader Danilo Ramos. 

Based on PSA monitoring, during the last week of April, the highest farmgate price of dry palay with 14% moisture content was recorded in Northern Mindanao in Region 10 at P25.35 per kilo. The lowest price of P17.58/kg was observed in Western Visayas or Region 6.

DA is again looking at rice importation to stabilize the domestic rice supply. The agency said import permits were issued for 1.8 million metric tons of imported rice, with 300,000 metric tons under government-to-government importation arrangements.

“Instead of spending hard-earned tax money for rice importation, the DA must fully support the domestic rice production and the NFA must procure as much palay as it can from local rice farmers. This will help cushion the severe impact of the lockdown on rice farmers,” Ramos added. 

“NFA must increase and expand its milling capacity and ensure more effective ways on how it can buy palay from farmers even in far-flung barangays,” Ramos concluded. ###

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