Duterte orders NFA to buy palay from farmers
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy palay, or unhusked rice, from local farmers to help them cope with the effects of the rice tariffication law.
But the President insisted that the government and farmers should “arrive at a compromise” on the price of palay.
Farmers’ groups have asked for government aid after the farm-gate price of palay plunged down to as low as P7 per kilo following the implementation of the rice tariffication law, which the President signed in February this year.
“How much is their price? Let’s buy,” The President said in Filipino n Wednesday in a press conference in Malacañang.
“But you cannot demand a price. You arrive at a compromise of how much you are willing to lose a little bit. Just to break even, as long as they won’t be shortchanged for their efforts. They are compensated but do not demand a price that is unreasonable,” he added.
Duterte also defended the new law which he said was meant “to serve the greater interest of the majority of the people.”
“So the solution there is for us to buy it. Even if we lose money. That’s why we collect taxes,” he said.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar also refused to blame the Rice Tariffication Law for the drop in palay prices.
“Even before the [enactment] of the Rice Tariffication Law wasn’t there already a drop in palay prices?” he said, speaking partly in Filipino. “So somebody is taking advantage and we see to it that we will apply the full force of the law [on those caught] hoarding.”
To prevent hoarding, Dar said the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry would inspect rice warehouses to ensure that traders and millers are “not managing for themselves only.”