April 17, 2019
The National Food Authority (NFA) expects to procure sufficient palay (unmilled rice) from local farmers as it adopts more aggressive procurement as mandated by the rice tariffication law.
Under the liberalized rice trading scheme, the NFA will no longer be allowed to import rice as its role was confined to buffer-stocks management for emergencies and calamities via buying palay solely from local farmers.
“Based on the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) [of the rice tariffication law], the NFA must now adopt a policy of maintaining a buffer stock equivalent to 15-30 days of the country’s national rice consumption, sourced from local farmers only. To be able to meet that, we have to buy around 15-30 million bags of palay,” NFA acting administrator Tomas Escarez said in a statement on Tuesday.
As harvest season peaks this month, the NFA is currently buying an average of 73,233 bags per day, Escarez said, noting that the agency’s palay procurement was already much higher than in recent years.
NFA data said the agency procured a total of 1.86 million bags from January to April 12. Of that volume, 593,123 bags were bought in April alone, nearly half of the 1.26 million bags NFA procured in the first quarter of 2019.
Highest volume of palay procurement (in bags) this month were reported in Occidental Mindoro (San Jose), 93,699; Isabela, 79,020; Nueva Ecija, 72,420; Bulacan, 52,856; Mamburao, 31,907; Northwestern Cagayan-Apayao (Allacapan), 23,629; Tarlac, 19,484 and North Cotabato, 17,896.
“We are hoping this will continue as we fulfill our mandated level of buffer stock. Our palay procurement activities will also continue for as long as there are palay farmers willing to sell to us, to give them a fair price for their palay produce,” Escarez said.
Escarez attributed the sharp increase in NFA’s palay procurement on the agency’s buffer stocking incentive (BSI) program which gives local farmers P3.70 incentive per kilo to the P17 per kilo buying price, or a total of P20.70 per kilo for clean and dry paddy rice.
Meanwhile, the average farmgate price of palay continues to fall, reaching P18.87 per kilo as of April 5, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed. Palay prices also fell to as low as P14 per kilo in some areas in the country.
“We are receiving complaints through our Citizens’ Complaint Hotline regarding low price of palay in some areas. But we assure the farmers not to worry because NFA is always ready to buy their harvest at a very reasonable price,” Escarez said.
Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law liberalizes the importation, export and trading of rice. It also lifts the quantitative import restriction on rice.
The law also stripped NFA’s regulatory functions over the international and domestic trading of rice, such as the issuance of rice import permits, licensing and registration of grains businessmen, monitoring and inspection of rice business and facilities, and enforcement of grains trading rules and regulations, among others.
With the rice tariffication, the government said prices of the staple are expected to be cheaper by up to P7 per kilo.
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