HOUSE Appropriations Chairperson Rep. Karlo “Ang Probinsyano” Nograles reiterated his call for the National Food Authority (NFA) Council to increase the buying price for locally-produced palay, from P17 to P22––and procure rice from farmers in Mindanao––so that the NFA could improve buffer stocks and help stabilize rice supplies and prices.
Nograles had earlier filed a resolution at the House of Representatives calling on the House Committee on Agriculture and Food Security to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation “to study and comprehensively examine the NFA Council’s policy of buying rice at 17 pesos per kilo and study proposals to increase said buying price of palay to 22 pesos per kilo”.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, the legislator from Davao said that it has been over 10 years since the buying price for palay was increased and that the current price was unfair to local farmers.
The P17 per kilo limit, said Nograles, explains why the NFA has failed to procure rice from local farmers.
Nograles said that “napakabarat po ng presyo nitong NFA; there is no way farmers are going to sell their palay at 17 pesos.”
“This has been at 17 pesos since 2008, or for ten years. We all know that since then, the price of everything has gone up. Oil, seeds, fertilizer, and the like,” Nograles said.
Nograles stressed that the current buying price was pegged at an unrealistic estimate of the production costs of palay.
“Ang sinabi pa ng NFA Council ganito: Cong, di bale kasi ang cost of producing palay naman eh 12 pesos kaya kung 17 pesos ang buying natin, may 5 pesos pa daw na ganansya yung ating mga magsasaka. Naniniwala ka ba dyan? Na 12 pesos ang cost ng pag-produce ng palay (What the NFA says is this: it’s okay since the cost of producing rice is 12 pesos, which is why our buying price is 17 pesos, so there is a profit of 5 pesos. Do you believe that? That the cost of producing palay is only 12 pesos?),” an incredulous Nograles asked.
The House leader said that as a result, the NFA is now forced to import rice to head off rice prices that have been surging as a result of limited rice stocks.
“Ngayon dahil nangangailangan tayo ng bigas dahil nga itong nagsisitaasan na nga ang commercial rice dahil sa kakulangan ng supply, ang ginagawa nila import naman sila nang import; so puros mga imported ang bigas natin (now that we need rice because commercial rice prices are going up because of limited supplies, we have to import; all our rice has to be imported now),” Nograles said.
Nograles said that with Typhoon Ompong threatening to wipe out rice harvests in Luzon, it was imperative for the NFA to procure rice in places like Mindanao since the NFA only had seven days of buffer stock left, or a total of 4.6 million bags.
“Ang problema natin, the economic team has directed the NFA to flood the market with this rice to help stabilize rice prices. But if the typhoon wipes out the crops in Luzon—and let’s hope it does not—will the NFA have rice left in its warehouses?” asked the solon from Mindanao.
“This is why my recommendation is for the NFA to increase its buying price, match what is being offered by commerical rice traders, then corner the rice in areas like Mindanao; dun sila bumili so that the NFA will have enough rice stocks to help us weather the typhoon and the national storm caused by surging rice prices.”