At least 23 provincial local governments have committed to directly buy palay from embattled rice farmers to help them cope with the continued drop in farmgate prices.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar disclosed that the said PLGUs have committed a total of P4.95 billion for processing and marketing palay directly bought from the farmers.
The commitment was made after average farmgate price of palay (unhusked rice) slid further to a new eight-year low.
Initially, some 13 PLGUs of the country’s top rice-producing provinces – including 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 PLGUs of Kalinga, Mountain Province, Marinduque, Iloilo, Capiz, Bohol, Biliran, Zamboanga Sibugay, Sarangani and Agusan del Norte followed suit following the rice task force meeting on Oct 15, 2019.
“We are closely working with Land Bank 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 added.
Dar further disclosed that the LBP will present the updates on the loan facility, which is seen to help curb further drop in prices of palay.
Meanwhile, he encouraged other provinces with budget limitations to avail of loans from LBP for drying facilities and access National Food Authority warehouses for storage of palay, and make these available for farmers’ use.
Average price palay have started to steadily decline at the onset of the rice tariffication in March. The influx of imported rice months after its full implementation further depressed the buying price of local palay to levels way below the cost production.
As of end-September, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said that the average farmgate price of palay dropped further to P15.82/kg or 0.9 percent during the week, compared to P15.96/kg a week ago. The average price was also lower by 29.3 percent compared to the P22.36/kg a year ago.