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NFA appeals to farmers to contribute to Palawan’s rice buffer supply

(Palawan News file photo)

The National Food Authority is urging farmers to save aside a percentage of their harvest for the rice buffer stock in Palawan, although it is sufficient to meet demands.

The agency said the collaboration of local farmers wanting to contribute a portion of their harvest to this would benefit the organization as a whole.

Julius Lopez, assistant branch manager for the agency’s office in Palawan, made the appeal on Thursday during the Kapihan hosted by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and SM City Puerto Princesa, while reporting that the current buffer stock inventory consists of approximately 28,000 bags.

He said this includes around 16,000 bags of rice and over 19,000 bags of dry palay, which are stored in warehouses located in the barangays of Masipag and Liwanag in the city, as well as in Barangay Poblacion in Narra and Brgy. Buligay in Brooke’s Point municipalities in southern Palawan.

“Traditionally, ang gusto talaga ng farmers ay yung mai-out kaagad pag harvest pa lang. Ine-encourage namin sila na magset-aside. Ang winoworkout namin sa harvest ng ating mga farmers ganoon din naman—na hinihingi [natin] na part [ng kanilang ani] ay mapunta sa NFA—part lang sana,” he said.

After the enactment of the Rice Tariffication Law in 2019, he explained that the National Food Authority (NFA) relinquished its power to oversee and license rice imports.

As a result, the NFA no longer possesses the capacity to influence rice prices in the market or compete with private enterprises.

“Since 2019 ang natira doon sa function namin ay yung buffer stocking, so yun ay sourced out from local farmers,” Lopez said.

The current purchasing price for palay is roughly P19 per kilo. He explained that the inclusion of an extra P4 for buffer stocking results in an effective buying price of P23 per kilo for clean and dry palay.

Lopez clarified that despite President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. lifting the rice price caps through Executive Order No. 39, NFA Palawan continues to rely on locally sourced rice from farmers.

Moreover, he noted that the available stock in Palawan consists of clean and dry palay rather than freshly harvested palay, as the province lacks the necessary drying facilities.

“We cannot use yung tinatawag nating fresh or wet palay as of this moment, dahil wala tayong drying facility dito sa Palawan,” Lopez added.

He noted that NFA rice cannot currently be sold in local farmer’s markets due to the unamended Rice Tariffication Law, which has stripped the agency of its retailing functions. But Lopez assured that the buffer stock undergoes rigorous quality control, with the rice being checked for suitability for human consumption before distribution.

Lopez indicated too that NFA rice supplies should only be stored for a maximum of nine months. However, in practice, none of their inventories linger in storage for more than eight months as they distribute the bags immediately and replace them with rice acquired from local farmers.

Addressing concerns raised by farmers who felt that the NFA was selective in its choice of palay, Lopez emphasized that this selection process was solely aimed at maintaining the high quality of rice provided by the agency.

“Hindi kami namimili ng special man yan or ibang classification, basta pasok siya sa parameters ng NFA. (…) Ngayon naman, ina-assure namin yan kung ano ang bininili namin sa mga farmers yun din, pagdating ng kalamidad iyon din naman ang aming ini-issue,” he said.

Lopez noted that NFA Palawan selects palay with a purity of 90-100% that can generate Grade 2, Grade 1, and premium rice. Damage and discolouration to the palay should not exceed 0.70%, and the palay’s moisture content should not exceed 14%.

While Lopez stated that the buffer stock could feed 1.3 million Palaweños for at least three days, based on the daily consumption requirement of 9,300 bags per day, he also stated that NFA Palawan is working to add more rice stations around the province.

He stated that they had borrowed a rice station in Taytay while waiting for the approval of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for an exception for their staff to be deployed there.

Lopez also stated that they are hoping to build a drying plant in the province, as well as rice stations, comprised of a main processing center surrounded by smaller distributing facilities.

The NFA is willing to engage in agreements with the municipal governments if they are willing to allocate a section of land for the construction of these rice stations.

https://palawan-news.com/nfa-appeals-to-farmers-to-contribute-to-palawans-rice-buffer-supply/ QR Code

Published Date: October 28, 2023

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