By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard
In an effort to alleviate the plight of local farmers over low farmgate prices of palay, former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called on the National Food Authority (NFA) to assert its original mandate – the power to stabilize prices and maintain sufficient rice buffer stocks while protecting local farmers.
He said this is the quickest and most tenable solution to the perennial complaints of farmers over low farmgate prices for their grains.
“The role of NFA is to stabilize buying prices of palay over the dry and wet season. They will buy the grains at competitive prices so our farmers are not forced to sell at a loss. And during the dry season,
NFA must release its stockpile of rice so there is no shortage that could drive up prices,” Marcos said.
He said doing so would also ensure food sufficiency for the whole country without resorting to importations.
According to local farmers, the cost of producing palay stands at P12.41/kg. This is way higher than the production cost for rice in Vietnam, which is around P6.22/kg, and in Thailand, which is around P8.86/kg.
Farmgate prices of palay from January to June still fell year-on-year from P17.42/kg to P16.94/kg, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Earlier, Marcos also questioned the takeover of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) from the Department of Agriculture (DA) by the Department of Finance (DOF).
“Why should it be transferred to the DOF? The DA is more aware of what is happening in the agricultural sector? The DA has all the pertinent data about such sector. Wasn’t the PCIC formed to provide insurance protection to farmers against losses arising from natural disasters, plant diseases, and pest infestation?” Marcos said.
He said members of the Federation of Free Farmers have expressed apprehension that under the DOF, the PCIC’s priority will shift to fiscal and monetary concerns which may not necessarily be supportive of the needs of farmers and the DA.
“The concerns of our farmers must also be considered because they are the sector affected by this move. They should be consulted,” Marcos said.