NFA falls short of summer harvest buying target

PALO, Leyte — Even with the peak of summer harvest season, the National Food Authority (NFA) in Eastern Visayas only achieved 4.12 percent of its palay (unhusked rice) procurement goal this year, an official reported on Thursday.

Of the 42,000 sacks target, only 1,730 bags have been purchased by the state grains agency from farmers in six provinces from January to early part of May this year.

Historically, the government never attained its procurement target despite promotion efforts, said Agnes Militante, NFA regional information officer.

“There has not been a time that we achieved our quota up to 100 percent, but that means our farmers are earning more than the agency and we are happy for that,” the official said on Thursday.

The NFA’s buying price for clean and dry palay is PHP17 per kilogram, inclusive of drying, transport, and cooperative development incentives while private trader buy the commodity for PHP20 per kilogram, according to Militante

For April 2017 alone, the grains agency only bought 1,341 bags of the 9,400 target. As of May 5, only 252 bags have been procured. The present goal is the same with the previous month.

Many farmers are indebted to private traders, putting them more pressures to sell their goods to lenders, Militante said.

Convenience is another factor considering that under the NFA policy, farmers have to bring their palay to buying stations and use passbooks.

“We are just the buyer of last resort and private traders also have the option to buy in our agency if the farmers didn’t produce enough palay,” Militante said.

In preparation for harvest months, the NFA has notified local agriculture offices to help them in informing farmers about the national government’s procurement initiative.

The central government had set aside PHP4.6 million to buy local palay (unhusked rice) from farmers in Eastern Visayas this summer.

NFA Regional Information Officer Agnes Militante said mobile buying stations had been reactivated to augment the operations of permanent buying stations and warehouses in six provinces.

NFA buying stations are located in Tacloban City, Alangalang, Baybay, Hilongos and Ormoc City in Leyte; Maasin and Saint Bernard in Southern Leyte; Naval in Biliran; Calbayog City and Catbalogan in Samar; Catubig, Rawis, Bobon, and Victoria in Northern Samar; Oras, Borongan, and Guiuan in Eastern Samar. Sarwell Meniano & Meagan Duya-OJT/PNA