Ilocos Norte mulls buyback scheme for rice

LAOAG CITY — To ensure food security in the province, the provincial government of Ilocos Norte plans to implement a buyback scheme for rice, which is almost similar to a scheme adopted among garlic farmers in 2015.

According to Governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos, the proposed buyback scheme for rice is currently being reviewed for a joint partnership with the National Food Authority (NFA).

The buyback scheme was first tested in the province in 2015 among garlic farmers and it has been proven beneficial to local producers and consumers, she said.

Under a buyback scheme for garlic, the provincial government of Ilocos Norte bought garlic produce from local growers and sold them to the national market.

Like garlic, the provincial government is considering to add a certain amount to NFA’s buying price for rice so that farmers will sell their products to them. Once finalized, the amount will be announced later.

“We need to remedy and ensure enough food supply at least in the province,” said Marcos as she described NFA’s current buying price of rice pegged at PHP17 per kilo as “outrageous” compared to commercial buying of PHP28 per kilo.

To avoid a situation similar to that of Zamboanga and Basilan, which are short of rice supply, the governor explained the province needs to do something to maintain a stable price of major crops in Ilocos Norte.

In a related development, the Ilocos Norte government will also resume the Kadiwa market or rolling stores to sell basic goods and food items to consumers which are much lower than the prevailing market rates.

“On Thursday, the Kadiwa market will be in Laoag, Batac and Pagudpud,” said Marcos as the program is meant to support local farmers and less income families.

With the increasing prices of basic commodities, Marcos adopted the Kadiwa project of her father, former president Ferdinand Marcos to help those who are struggling to budget their day to day basic needs.