STO. DOMINGO, Nueva Ecija – With its budget for palay procurement increased to more than P2 billion, the Nueva Ecija provincial food council (PFC) kicked off its palay-buying in this town.
Six small farmers tilling one hectare or less of riceland became the initial beneficiaries of the PFC program.
The PFC led by its chairman Gov. Aurelio Umali went directly to the barangays and bought the farmers’ newly-harvested palay at a rate higher than its prevailing farmgate price.
The farmers who benefitted from the PFC scheme were Mary Ann Lorenzo of Bgy. San Fabian, who sold 50 cavans of palay to the PFC for her half-hectare farm; Richard Nimenso of Bgy. San Agustin, 80 cavans for a hectare of rice farm; Wilson Corpuz of Bgy. Comitang, 80 cavans for one hectare of rice farm; and Bartolome Arciaga, and Ryan and Efren Alcantara of Bgy. Cabugao, who sold their produce from their half-hectare each of farm.
The farmer-beneficiaries thanked Umali and the PFC for their efforts in extending help to small farmers amid the continued drop in the price of locally-produced palay, which was blamed on the implementation of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tarrification Law, which paved the way for the influx of cheap and imported rice from other countries.
The PFC’s palay-buying thrust was recently hailed by Agriculture Sec. William Dar.
Dar asked the other governors of the 30 top-rice producing provinces to follow and replicate Nueva Ecija’s initiative for the farmers.
Elvira Ronquillo, provincial social welfare officer, said at least 2,000 small local farmers have already qualified as beneficiaries of the council’s program, which will continuously run until it attains its target of buying at least 40 percent of the farmers’ local produce this wet cropping harvest season.