More local government units (LGUs) have committed their support to directly buy palay from farmers, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
William Dar, agriculture secretary, said in a statement some 23 provincial LGUs have committed a total of P4.95 billion for processing and marketing palay directly bought from farmers to help them cope with the continued drop in farmgate prices.
Initially, the country’s top rice-producing provinces – Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Cagayan and Bataan – committed funding for the palay procurement and assistance program.
The LGUs of Kalinga, Mountain Province, Marinduque, Iloilo, Capiz, Bohol, Biliran, Zamboanga Sibugay, Sarangani and Agusan del Norte followed suit after the rice task force meeting held last week.
“Our efforts to partner with our provincial governors is now coming into fruition as we jointly help prop-up palay prices. Through this, we hope to provide sure market for the produce of our rice farmers at a fairly competitive price at least for this season in these provinces,” Dar said.
He added that most of the LGUs are already in the preliminary process of completing the activities as they conduct committee meetings and craft Sangguniang Panlalawigan resolutions that would authorize them to avail of a loan facility from Land Bank of the Philippines.
Under the Palay sa Lalawigan program, the bank would provide easy access loans to interested LGUs to bankroll their direct engagement in the rice industry value chain.
“We are closely working with Landbank to provide loan schemes that are easily accessible with minimal or no interest to our farmers affected by low farmgate prices. We are trimming down the requirements to attract more farmers in availing these loans,” Dar said.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the DA said the average farmgate price of palay dropped to P15.82 per kilogram as of end-September, compared to the previous week’s P15.96 per kg. The average price was also 29.3 percent down from the P22.36 per kg. a year ago.