NFA urged to buy more rice
Industry groups are urging the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy more rice to augment its buffer stock and stabilize prices.
According to Bantay Bigas and Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), NFA’s goal to buy 6 million bags or about 300,000 metric tons (MT) of palay from local farmers this year corresponds to just 1.6 percent of the country’s total palay production.
The agency, however, is mandated to buy at least 10 percent of total local production to help stabilize rice prices and maintain a healthy buffer.
“How can the NFA boost its buffer stock with such meager target procurement? NFA should increase its palay procurement at better prices to stabilize the market price,” Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said.
“The target government procurement at current purchasing price [of P17 per kilo] would not guarantee the increase in buffer stock and rice prices stabilization,” she added.
Bantay Bigas has thus urged the agency to fulfill its mandate to buy at least 10 percent of local output. It also wants price controls implemented to ease the burden on consumers, especially those who earn below the minimum wage, while the government works on long-term solutions to address the rice crisis.
Meanwhile, Sinag said the agency could easily buy 12 million bags this harvest season—twice its procurement target for the year—since farm-gate prices are expected to decline with the abundance of palay.
“They [NFA] should take advantage of the situation now and procure as much as they can… The shortage happened because they didn’t plan ahead and they depended on imports to increase their buffer stock. This is contrary to their mandate to procure from local farmers,” Sinag chair Rosendo So said.
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