State-run National Food Authority said Thursday it is now on a palay-buying spree as it takes on its new role of buffer stocking solely from local farmers’ produce.
NFA officer-in-charge administrator Tomas Escarez said the agency’s field offices bought 990,783 bags of palay or unmilled rice in March alone, bringing the total palay procurement to 1.263 million bags in the first quarter.
Escarez said the first-quarter procurement was 6,149-percent higher than 20,540 bags it bought in the first quarter of 2018.
“We are not surprised though because March is the start of the summer crop harvest and we were able to capitalize on our higher incentives versus the low buying price of palay traders. While traders reduced their buying price to as low as P14/kilogram, we, on the other hand, increased our buying price up to P20.70/kg for clean and dry palay,” Escarez said.
The NFA said it started implementing an additional P3-per-kilogram buffer stocking incentive in October 2018, in addition to the previous P0.20/kg drying, P0.20/kg delivery, and P0.30/kg cooperative incentive fee.
This increased the agency’s maximum buying price for palay from P17.40/kg for individual farmers and P17.70 for members of farmer cooperatives/organizations to P20.40/kg and P20.70 per kg, respectively.
Data from the NFA showed that as of March 31, it bought 152,551 bags of palay in Isabela. Other top sources of palay in the first quarter were Nueva Ecija with 128,827 bags; Tarlac with 127,782; Occidental Mindoro with 109,358; North Cotabato with 105,115; Sultan Kudarat with 72,961; Bulacan with 58,455; Northwestern Cagayan-Apayao with 49,996; Cagayan with 36,077; Ilocos Norte with 34,683; Bataan with 31,274; and Zamboanga del Sur with 23,523.
Escarez said NFA should be ready for more palay procurement, especially in the next two months as summer harvest peaks. The agency also increased its previous target of palay procurement from 7.78 million bags to 14.46 million bags for 2019.
“With the implementation of RA 11203 or the Rice Trade Liberalization Law, rice distribution was removed from the functions of NFA. We now have to shift our focus to palay procurement. NFA will continue to serve our farmers by buying their produce to ensure a reasonable return for their harvest especially now that farmers are suffering from the effects of El Niño and private traders are buying low,” Escarez said.