The National Food Authority (NFA) Bicol regional office on Friday, Oct. 2 has assured Bicolano farmers that it has sufficient budget to buy their harvested palay.
Edna de Guzman, NFA Bicol regional director, said the agency allocated some P112 million for its palay procurement program in the region, which amount is replenished when needed.
I want the farmers to know that they don’t have to worry because we have sufficient funds as far as procurement of palay is concerned. As of today, our fund on hand is almost P112 million and we are expecting more and if we exceed the target, we will immediately ask for replenishment, which is downloaded within two days, she said.
De Guzman also confirmed that NFA surpassed its provincial palay procurement target last September in: Sorsogon (198.2 percent); Camarines Sur (125.53 percent); and Catanduanes (110.8 percent).
While the remaining provinces of Camarines Norte, Masbate, and Albay still have palay to be harvested, we expect more volume of palay for the month of October since it is the peak month of harvest, she said.
An NFA report showed that: Camarines Sur has the highest number of procured palay with 94,150 bags; followed by Sorsogon with 15,856 bags; Albay, 6,469 bags; Camarines Norte, 4,480; Catanduanes, 1,663; and Masbate, 405 bags.
NFA is buying clean and dry palay from farmers at P19 a kilo.
Meanwhile, Albay 3rd District Rep. Fernando Cabredo recently said that to address the complaints of hundreds of farmers on the reported drop in the buying price of palay to P12 per kilo, six mayors in his district have agreed to set up rice buying stations in their respective towns.
Cabredo said the establishments of rice buying stations in the towns of Guinobatan, Jovellar, Pioduran, Oas, Polangui, Libon, and Ligao City would solve the drop in the price of palay due to intermittent weather conditions and absence of post-harvest facilities that force the farmers to sell their produce to local traders at a lower price.
He said he was assured by the NFA-Albay that it is ready to buy dried and cleaned palay at P19 per kilo through two buying stations in the town of Libon and Ligao City.
“The absence of rice buying station compels farmers to sell their palay to rice traders who in turn take advantage of the situation by manipulating and dictating the buying price of palay,” he said.
“Farmers would like to sell their produce directly to the NFA to get a good price but they are discouraged to do so because of the stringent buying procedure of the agency, which requires the palay to be clean and dry. This, according to them, would entail an additional operating cost, including the lack of post-harvest facilities in their community,” Cabredo said.
Cabredo, quoting a report of NFA, said the agency could not buy and accept palay that is still wet and unclean because of the absence of post-harvest facilities across the region.
The Albay solon recently facilitated a dialogue between the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional director Rodel Tornilla, the Albay provincial agriculture office, Philippine Rice Research Institute, Libon Mayor Das Maronilla, who is the Albay Mayors’ League president, and the mayors of Oas and Ligao City.
To ease the burden of farmers in selling palay, it was agreed that NFA will establish buying/pickup stations in coordination with the mayors to provide accessibility of these stations to the farmers, particularly those in far-flung areas,” he said.
“We also asked the DA to provide more post-harvest facilities like rice processing centers, dryers, and multipurpose drying pavement, and assistance to farmers for selling their palay produce such as transportation assistance, and farm to market roads,“ he added. (PNA)