MANILA — Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Thursday ordered the National Food Authority (NFA) to bring down rice prices to PHP27 per kilo by flooding Metro Manila markets with 3.6 million bags of the food staple.
He also directed the agency to increase palay support price to PHP19 from PHP17 per kilo.
“The NFA Council (NFAC) met and there are a number of big developments in relation to palay procurement and price of rice in the market,” Dar said during the press conference held at the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in Quezon City.
The Agriculture chief said the NFAC decided for the NFA “to flood Metro Manila markets and other key cities nationwide with imported NFA rice.”
“(Some) 3.6 million bags of imported rice will be out in the market for one month starting today (Sept. 12). All bags will be up until October 10,” he added.
Dar said the NFA rice will be sold at PHP25 per kilogram wholesale, and PHP27 per kg. retail.
When sold at retail price of PHP27 per kilo, the 3.6 million 50-kilogram bags would amount to PHP4.86 billion, which the NFA can readily use to procure from farmers, he said.
Dar said the PHP2 increase in palay price support could translate to PHP8,000 additional income per farmer, based on current national average yield of four tons per hectare.
“Palay buying by NFA to farmers will now be at PHP19 per kg. from PHP17, pero wala na ang incentives (but no more incentives),” he said.
The NFA currently buys palay at PHP17 per kg. support price plus PHP3 per kilo buffer stocking incentive.
This brings NFA’s maximum buying price for clean and dry palay to PHP20.70 a kilo for farmer cooperatives and PHP20.40 per kilo for individual farmers.
“We would like to believe that flooding the market with 3.6 million bags of imported rice will have an impact in lowering (the price of rice in the market),” Dar said.
Earlier, the DA chief has secured the commitment of some 30 provincial governments to buy palay from their farmers directly.
Dar said the Land Bank of the Philippines will launch a new loan facility for local government units (LGUs) for them to buy palay directly from their farmers.
The DA is also set to forge an agreement with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in which the latter will give rice instead of the PHP6,000 cash to the beneficiaries of its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
“We are also working with DSWD to convert the PHP6,000 unconditional cash transfer (CCT). We hope that the money could be used to purchase palay. (About) PHP28 billion (will be the) rice subsidy under 4Ps,” Dar said.
The DWSD has the option to buy either from the provincial governments and the NFA, giving farmers an assured market for their produce either way, he added.
During the meeting last Tuesday, Dar, who heads the NFAC, said the NFA was also directed to undertake a comparative palay production cost study per region to come up with basis for a more responsive and precise rice and palay pricing policies to be set by the NFAC. Lilybeth Ison /PNA- northboundasia.com