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LGUs, private sector asked anew to buy palay, corn to prop up prices

Author: DA Communications Group | 1 October 2020

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has reiterated its appeal to provincial local government units (PLGUs) and the private sector to buy palay (unmilled rice) and corn directly from farmers to prop up prices, as harvest season peaks.

“The LGU- and private sector-led palay and corn buying will complement efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA) through the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy as much as possible from rice farmers using its 2020 P10-billion procurement fund,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

“We instructed NFA to roll-over twice its procurement fund so it could buy P20 billion-worth of palay this year,” the DA chief said.

The agency buys dried palay, at 14 percent moisture content, at P19 per kilo. It also offers to buy palay right at the barangay.

He also asked the NFA to make available its warehouses for use by farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) and LGUs.

“We will accelerate the modernization of the NFA’s drying and milling facilities so they could provide much-needed services for the benefit of our rice farmers,” he added.

Further, he said provincial governments can avail of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) of up to P2 billion at two percent interest to procure palay, and acquire farm machineries and postharvest facilities.

With the NFA’s palay procurement limited to buffer stocking for calamities and emergencies, the DA chief said provincial LGUs and grains industry stakeholders will have to step in and purchase directly through negotiated contracts with FCAs.

“This should be part of the ‘new normal,’ where LGUs are taking a more pro-active stance by directly buying farmers’ produce — be these rice, corn, vegetables, chicken, eggs, fish and other farm and fishery products — at reasonable prices, and then including them in their food packs for their constituents,” Secretary Dar said.

The DA chief is hoping to replicate the success of last year’s palay procurement efforts by provincial LGUs, led by the top rice-producing provinces.

They were able to buy more than P30-billion worth of palay from farmers.

This harvest season, the DA wrote the governors of the top 12 rice-producing provinces to once again buy palay from their farmers.

“We are encouraging them once again, led by Governor Rodito Albano of Isabela and Governor Oyie Umali of Nueva Ecija,” Secretary Dar said.

He has been issuing the call to governors and local chief executives during his regional sorties, despite the pandemic.

Aside from Albano and Umali, Secretary Dar has personally talked with governors Matthew Joseph Marcos Manotoc (Ilocos Norte), Ryan Luis Singson (Ilocos Sur), Dennis Pineda (Pampanga), Daniel Fernando (Bulacan), Edwin Jubahib (Davao del Norte), and Nelson Dayanghirang (Davao Oriental).

The DA chief likewise called on the private sector, particularly those in the grains industry, to engage in long-term contract-growing and marketing agreement with organized, clustered FCAs to buy rice for their employees and clientele, doubling as part of their corporate social responsibility.

He also lauded the Philippine Association of Feed Millers Inc. (PAFMI) for its initiative to buy direct from farmers an initial 133,500 metric tons of corn that will be processed into animal feed.

PAFMI said it also expected to forge an agreement with the DA and farmers’ groups for a contract-growing and marketing program for corn and soybean in selected provinces nationwide.

Last year, the country’s top 12 rice producing provinces were: 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, roughly 52 percent of the country’s total harvest of 18.815 MMT last year.

“Their direct procurement will significantly shore up the national average farmgate price of palay, thus helping more farmers,” concluded Secretary Dar. ### (DA StratComms)

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