NFA urged to relax rules on palay procurement, buy more from farmers
Sen. Cynthia Villar has urged the National Food Authority (NFA) to relax its procurement requirements so more farmers would be able to sell their produce to the agency.
Villar is the chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food.
However, a number of the NFA’s warehouses have already reached their maximum capacity as the agency has engaged in a buying spree. This forced the NFA to reposition its stocks to provinces where there was minimal procurement operations or lease warehouses to accommodate more supply.
During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Villar said the grains agency should not be too strict with its moisture content requirement since it had drying facilities it could use to dry the palay it was buying from farmers.
Currently, the NFA buys palay with moisture content of only up to 14 percent. Newly harvested palay usually have moisture content of 30 percent.
NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal said that they were already accommodating palay with 30-percent moisture content, but due to the lack of drying facilities, they could accept only a minimal volume.
As palay prices continue to fall, more farmers are relying on NFA to buy their produce given that the agency’s current support price is considerably higher than prices being offered by traders, which sometimes go to as low as P10 a kilogram.
Thus, some regional offices have to transport their surplus to nearby provinces with available storage while other offices have opted to lease space for storage. These include Isabela and Mindoro.
From January to August, the NFA had bought 5.9 million bags of palay, or 41 percent of its target of 14.46 million bags this year. The agency is positive that it would meet its target, since the bulk of the country’s palay are produced during the main harvest season which is set to begin this month.
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