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DA urges LGUs to help prop up palay, corn prices

Author: DA Communications Group | 9 September 2020

Agriculture Secretary William Dar urges anew local government units (LGUs) to help prop up farmgate prices of palay (paddy rice) and corn, particularly during harvest season.

“Once again, we call on the vigorous support of LGUs particularly governors of top rice- and corn-producing provinces to buy directly from their farmers, and thus help government stabilize prices of the country’s two major staples,” said Secretary Dar.

“The DA will extend needed support to provincial governors and other local chief executives, being the ‘food security czars,’ in their respective areas,” added Secretary Dar.

“As the country’s rice farmers start reaping this year’s main rice crop, we count on the continued support of our ‘food security czars’ in partnership with farmers nationwide. Directly buying their palay is a win-win situation — giving them reasonable income for their harvest and ensuring an adequate supply of rice for consumers in their localities,” the DA chief said.

The secretary is particularly calling on the provincial governors of the top 12 rice-producing provinces, namely: Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Iloilo, Camarines Sur, Tarlac, Negros Occidental, Maguindanao, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Leyte.

Together they produced more than 9.74 million metric tons (MMT) of palay last year, comprising 51.8 percent or more than half of the country’s total harvest of 18.815 MMT.

“Their direct procurement will significantly shore up the national average farmgate price of palay, thus helping more farmers,” said secretary Dar.

He added that provincial governments can avail of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) to procure palay from their farmers, and acquire farm machineries and post-harvest facilities.

“We have been closely working with LandBank to provide accessible and affordable credit not only to farmers, fishers, and agripreneurs, but also to LGUs under the bank’s PAlay aLAY sa Magsasaka ng Lalawigan (PALAY ng Lalawigan) Program,” Secretary Dar said.

The lending program was launched in 2019 with an initial P10-billion fund, of which P3.2 billion was lent to Isabela, Nueva Ecija and Camarines Sur.

On September 8, 2020, while in Davao region, Secretary Dar urged governor Edwin Jubahib of Davao del Norte and Governor Nelson Dayanghirang of Davao Oriental to buy palay from their farmers.

Further, Secretary Dar has instructed the National Food Authority (NFA) to make available its warehouses for LGUs and farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs).

Last year, 33 LGUs have rallied behind the DA, propping up palay prices amid the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.

Governors Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela and Aurelio Umali of Nueva Ecija were among the first to heed the call. This has resulted in propping up the national average price of palay to more than P19/kg.

The NFA buys dry palay at a maximum price of P19 per kilo.

“We recognize the birth pains of the RTL, and the COVID-19 situation has further challenged us this year. That is exactly the reason why we set up and rolled out support mechanisms to help our farmers produce more and eventually make them competitive. And initially, we are seeing good results,” Secretary Dar said.

“We will continue implementing the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), alongside the National Rice Program (NRP) and the new Rice Resiliency Project (RRP) under the Plant, Plant, Plant program to increase our rice adequacy level,” Secretary Dar concluded. ### (Myriam Layaoen, DA StratComms)

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