Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 6) – Lawmakers are pushing to increase the ₱7-billion budget for the National Food Authority’s direct palay procurement from rice farmers.
During the plenary deliberation on the Department of Agriculture’s 2021 budget on Monday, Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco, the sponsor of the department’s budget, said the annual allocation of P7 billion for the NFA’s palay procurement is not enough to maintain the purchasing price of palay.
He said ₱30 billion is needed to achieve this. The lawmaker explained that the program needs P1 billion per day that will be rolled over and enable it to increase buffer stocking from 15 days to 30 days.
Both Magsasaka Party-list Rep. Argel Cabatbat and Bataaan Rep. Geraldine Roman expressed their support to increase the budget allocated for the procurement of palay.
Cabatbat said procurement should also be made mandatory, especially for government agencies. On the other hand, Roman noted that this will make sure that farmers are able to sell their produce at P19 per kilo set by the government because there are reports that farmers in her province sell their harvest for P12 per kilo, excluding cost of production.
Under Republic Act no. 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law, the NFA is tasked to maintain a buffer stock to be sourced solely from local farmers. Under its rules and regulations, supply must be enough for 15 days. Last year, the price of the staple grain was generally on a downtrend, which some farmers said was due to the law.
To address this, the NFA was ordered to purchase farmers’ produce at ₱19 per kilo, on the condition that produce has 14% moisture content and 95% purity.
Meanwhile, Haresco said the DA needs about ₱130 billion to complete all of its farm-to-market road projects covering 13,000 kilometers. Annually, government only allocates P5 billion for this program, he noted.
He said as of September, there are already guidelines for FMR development framework plan.
Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said these projects should benefit farmers, and will only be used for the transport of agricultural products.
She also stressed the need to subsidize the expenses of Filipino farmers.
“We need to subsidize their expense. We need to help them cope with the challenging times,” she said.