NFA to flood market with cheap rice

    Twin measures. NFA targets to bring down the price range of commercial rice to P32 to P34 per kg, from P36 to P40 per kg. at present. (Photo by RHOY COBILLA)
    Twin measures. NFA targets to bring down the price range of commercial rice to P32 to P34 per kg, from P36 to P40 per kg. at present. (Photo by RHOY COBILLA)

    The Department of Agriculture (DA) said the National Food Authority (NFA)  has been ordered to flood the market with  3.6 million 50-kilogram (kg)  bags of rice starting yesterday (September 12) to be sold at  P27 per kg.

    The DA said the NFA Council (NFAC) which it chairs has given the  food  agency until October 10 to dispose the grain. The 3.6 million bags will be distributed in Metro Manila and major cities across the country.

    The volume when sold at retail price of P27 per kg would rake in P4.86 billion.

    The amount will then be used by NFA  to procure palay from farmers.

    In a briefing in Quezon City yesterday,  DA Secretary  William Dar said  NFAC also approved to increase the support price procurement for clean and dry palay to P19 per kg from P17.

    However, the P3 per kg buffer stocking incentive, P0.20 per kg drying incentive; P0.20 per kg delivery incentive and P0.30 per kg  cooperative development incentive fee will be abolished.

    Both measures were approved by the NFAC during an emergency meeting on Tuesday.

    The DA said the P2-increase in palay price support could translate to an additional P8,000 income per farmer, based on current national average yield of 4 tons per hectare.

    Judy Carol Dansal,  NFA administrator,  said at present, the price range of commercial rice in the market is between P36 and  P40 per kg.

    The goal now  is to bring this down to between P32 and P34 per kg.

    Dansal defended the scrapping of the incentives saying a higher support price will be more beneficial not just to  farmers but also to consumers.

    “The incentives were given last year since the situation was abnormal. The NFAC back then decided to provide incentives. However, the President ordered that we should also make it balanced, not only beneficial to the farmers but also to the consuming public,” she said.

    Dansal said  at the previous buying price plus incentives of P20.70 per kg, the government is being limited to buy more local produce of farmers.

    “Based on the computation of our economic managers, if we increase the palay support price, the price of all other basic commodities will also be affected… Farmers are still not at a loss since the cost of production according to the PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority) is P12.60 or P12.80 per kg so they still earn from the P19 per kg,” she said.

    Dansal also said the P19-per kg buying price is only good for the current harvest season and will be adjusted accordingly.

    This is the first harvest season where the supposed benefits of the rice tariffication law are set to kick in.

    The food agency is also completing a comparative palay production cost study per region to come up with basis for a more responsive and precise rice and palay pricing policies.

    The DA said  30 provincial governments have also committed to buy palay from their farmers directly.
    The DA also concurs with a plan of the Department of Social Welfare and Development  to give rice instead of the P600 cash to beneficiaries of its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.