AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the transfer of the National Food Authority (NFA) Negros Occidental Provincial Office from Gatuslao St., Bacolod City to Bago City makes way more sense.
The move was approved by the council.
The Provincial Government, through Governor Alfredo G. Marañon Jr., will build a new NFA building in Bago City and will allow NFA to use the rice processing complex.
The transfer makes sense as Bago City is the rice granary of the province.
Piñol does not see any logic behind the continued stay of the NFA buying station in the middle of Bacolod City.
“It’s ridiculous. You don't expect farmers to go there and sell their palay in the middle of the city,” the secretary said.
Piñol approved the proposed design prepared by the Provincial Government for the new NFA building with added features of putting up two silos, drying facilities, among others. This will cost the government at least P50 million.
“We will go to where the farmers are. That is the direction of President Rodrigo R. Duterte,” he said.
On the Rice Tariffication law, Piñol said the NFA will still go on buying palay from the farmers to establish and maintain buffer stocks.
He also addressed the fears of the farmers that the NFA will no longer buy their stocks and upon reaching the optimal level of buffer stocking, which is 30 days, it would stop.
“It is not going to happen that way,” said Piñol.
“Palay and rice would age. At a certain period of time or before six months, NFA should release their stocks or else these will spoil. Even if we have imported rice stocks until end of August, we will still continue selling NFA rice at P27 per kilo,” Piñol added.
Contrary to the report that the Confederation of Grains Retailers (Grecon) and NFA's decades old relationship will end under this tariffication law—it is not true.
“We need the retailers to sell our rice. Even if they are no longer licensed by the NFA, we will still continue dealing with Grecon. They could still sell the rice for us. The price of imported rice will still be at P27 per kilo. After August, they will meet again and determine,” Piñol continued.
“But we have to look on the thinking of our President. He is a populist President. If we compute the rate that we are buying right now at P20.70 per kilo, definitely, we will not be able to sell it at P27. But it does not mean that NFA will not be selling its excess buffer stocks at P27 because the President could, at any given time, say that the government will subsidize the remaining amount—then it could still go on,” he said.
There is actually a great possibility that the subsidized rice of the government will still continue even under tariffication or even under liberalization, the secretary added.