LGUs allot funds to help farmers
The provincial local government units (LGUs) of the country’s six top rice-producing provinces have allotted P1.6 billion to purchase palay from farmers to help them cope with the falling prices of the crop.
This followed the call of Agriculture Secretary William Dar on local officials to directly involve themselves in the industry’s value chain by bankrolling the buying, drying, milling and marketing of palay.
In a statement, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said initial commitments were made by Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali (P250 million), Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc (P200 million), Ilocos Sur Vice Gov. Jeremias Singson (P200 million), Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino III (P300 million) and La Union Vice Gov. Mario Ortega (P200 million).
Dar made the proposal after learning that the Isabela provincial government had been directly buying palay from local farmers in recent years.
For this year, the LGU of Isabela allotted P450 million for the acquisition program.
“With the buying price of palay at 14-percent moisture content set at P17 per kilo, these six provinces could procure roughly 91,176 metric tons (MT) of palay from farmers this wet season harvest,” Dar said.
He added that the pooled funding from the six LGUs could help about 27,000 small-scale farmers following the current national palay harvest average at 4MT per hectare.
In addition, Sen. Cynthia Villar said on Tuesday that she was urging the Department of Social Welfare and Development to use its funding to purchase local rice instead of doling out money to its beneficiaries.
Villar said the agency receive an annual rice subsidy of P28 billion, which could be used to support the country’s own palay producers.
Both the country’s production and prices of palay continued to slide this year due to a combination of factors such as the recent El Niño phenomenon, rising input costs and the initial effects of the industry’s deregulation.
During the Senate hearing on the utilization of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), Villar said the DA must allocate its own rice fund to programs not covered by the RCEF to maximize the help that could be extended to farmers.
The lawmaker recommended that the agency use the fund for the provision of inputs like fertilizers, hybrid seeds and additional support in times of calamities.
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