The National Food Authority (NFA) in Nueve Ecija can only buy four percent of the province’s expected rice harvest of 21 million sacks this main cropping season, its provincial manager said.
In an interview with local radio station Radyo Natin-Guimba last Friday, NFA provincial manager Genoveva Villar said they are ready to buy 900,000 sacks of palay (unhusked rice) from the province’s rice farmers at P17.00 per kilo.
Villar said further instructions have yet to reach their office after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that the NFA buy all palay from farmers following widespread complaints that the crop is being bought at only P7 per kilo due to the influx of cheap rice imports.
Palay was bought by traders at P21 per kilo prior to the impmentation of the Duterte government’s rice tarrification law.
The NFA in the province is willing to follow the president’s instructions if funds are made available, Villar said.
Villar added that if farmers would be qualified for added incentatives if their palay is fully dried.
Radyo Natin-Guimba reported, however, that farmers said this is a difficult precondition as the rainy season has already arrived and there are shortages of drying facilities in the province.
Villar also admitted that its warehouses are currently full of both imported and local rice, which she said is in accordance with the government’s buffer stock policy.
She suggested that the government may rent additional warehouses.
Radyo Natin-Guimba also reported that the NFA’s national budget of P7 billion is only enough to buy nine million sacks, which is not even half of Nueva Ecija’s projected harvest of 21 million sacks.
Nueva Ecija is one of the country’s top rice producing provinces. It current cropping is expected to be harvested in October. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)