WITH the main rice harvest season starting next week, Senator Imee R. Marcos stressed it was urgent for the government to release P37 billion to buy palay from local rice farmers, who are already hurting from depressed farmgate prices due to cheaper rice imports.
“Our fear is that local rice will flood the market when harvest season begins next week, so the NFA (National Food Authority) should already be buying palay from local farmers while prices are relatively higher, or we’d be done for,” Marcos said.
Marcos filed Senate Joint Resolution No. 4 on Friday, urging the immediate purchase of palay by the Department of Agriculture and the NFA, with funds from subsidy programs of the separtments of Social Welfare, National Defense, Interior and Local Government, and the Environment and Natural Resources.
The DSWD has P33.9 billion that can be used to buy palay and give rice instead of cash to beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Marcos pointed out.
Marcos added that P2.9 billion more from the DILG and the DND can be used to buy rice allocations for the police and military, as well as for personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Philippine Coast Guard, and Bureau of Fire Protection.
Over two million rice farmers are reeling from the depressed farmgate prices of palay, after the NFA released from its warehouses some four million bags of imported rice in the market, Marcos said.