By URIEL C. QUILINGUING
Contributing Editor .
WITH prices pegged higher, the government does not compete anymore with private traders in palay procurement, a National Food Authority regional official said.
NFA regional manager Robert John Hermano said the agency’s buying stations in Northern Mindanao have been paying farmers P19 for a kilogram of clean and dry palay, higher by P3 to P4 than the commercial traders’ prevailing P15- to P16-buying price.
Hermano said the grains agency’s regional office has a P600-million allocation for about 600,000 bags of palay that would be procured from various farmers and farmers’ associations and cooperatives in the region, this year.
He said enterprising rice traders in the past offered prices higher than the NFA support price so that they can corner all the farmers’ produce.
“This is not so now because commercial traders prefer to import rice instead of buying palay from farmers,” Hermano said during the Philippine Information Agency 10’s Talakayan media forum at SM City Uptown Wednesday.
He said the present situation is due to the rice tariffication law that took effect March this year.
Commercial traders, he said, can recover their capital faster by investing on rice importation instead of buying palay from farmers since they not spend for farm inputs, milling and transport.
In the same forum, science research analyst Hilario Yonson Jr. of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice) said at P19 a kilo, a farmer gets a net of P6.50 since the average production cost (seeds, fertilizer, pesticide and labor) for a kilo of palay is estimated at P12.50.
Last week, NFA’s Valencia and Maramag buying stations, both in Bukidnon, absorbed some 1,114 and 832 bags of palay, respectively, from individual farmers and farmers cooperatives.
Hermano said the NFA in the region has since been into palay procurement to deliver its supply buffer stocking primary function so that the estimated regional rice supply deficiency of 3.28 million bags of rice annually could be met.
The NFA’s mandate, he said, is to make sure that, at any given time, there is at least a 15-day buffer stock of rice supply in the event palay production targets are not met due to natural and man-made disasters.
He said the government allows rice importation because there has been an annual rice supply shortage of about 30 million bags so that the daily consumption requirement of 650,000 bags of rice would be available.
Hermano said that while the NFA is optimistic of the October palay harvests after the lean months of July and August yet there might be an oversupply due to private traders’ rice imports.
In November last year, NFA’s support price for a kilo of palay was P20.70 while that of private traders was higher, ranging from P22 to P23.
Aside from Baloy in Barangay Tablon in Cagayan de Oro where the NFA regional office and regional warehouse are located, farmers may sell palay in NFA warehouses that also serve as buying stations in Patag, Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental; Gango, Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental; Panguil, Lala, Lanao del Norte; Baraas, Iligan City; Lakas, Mambajao, Camiguin; and Wao, Lanao del Sur.
The region’s food-basket province of Bukidnon has four of NFA warehouses and buying stations that are in barangay Aglayan of Malaybalay; barangay Lumbo in Valencia; Musuan, Dologon in Maramag; Purok 6, South Poblacion in Maramag; and in Kalilangan.