THE National Food Authority (NFA) in Negros Occidental has already purchased 47,392 bags of palay (unhusked rice) worth about P45 million from farmers in the province, its top official said.
Engineer Frisco Canoy, provincial manager of NFA-Negros Occidental, said the amount is the agency's total palay procurement in three buying stations since last quarter of 2018.
The three buying stations in the province are in Bacolod City, Ilog town, and San Carlos City.
Canoy said of the figure, 45,992 bags were purchased from January to October this year, while the remaining 1,400 bags account for those purchased in late last year.
"About 80 percent of the volume were purchased using the new buying price of P19 per kilogram," he said, adding that NFA-Negros Occidental continues to cater to products of local farmers.
On September 13, NFA-Negros Occidental started implementing a new buying price without the incentives of up to P3.70 per kilogram.
From the previous support buying price of P17 per kilogram, the NFA Council has recommended an additional P2 per kilogram, making the buying price at P19 per kilogram.
The P3.70 incentives earlier given to farmers comprise of drying incentive of P0.20, delivery incentive of P0.20, and cooperative development incentive fee of P0.30 intended for associations where they belong.
Individual farmers, therefore, were previously getting a maximum of P20.40 per kilogram, while members of farmer cooperatives are getting maximum of P20.70 per kilogram of palay being sold to the NFA.
Canoy said bulk of the procurement accounts for the palay purchased during this cropping season, from September onwards.
He said the bigger palay procurement is expected to continue this November as there are still ongoing harvests in some areas in the province.
"This is the first time we have purchased such huge volume, the harvest peaked in October," Canoy said, adding that NFA-Negros Occidental is now looking for additional warehouses as those in Ilog and San Carlos City are almost full.
It can be recalled that, like those in other provinces in the country, farmers in the province were affected by the low prices of palay amid the implementation of rice tariffication measure.
NFA-Negros Occidental noted that the current average buying price of palay among traders is P16 per kilogram for dry and P14 to P15 per kilogram for wet.
So NFA's buying price of P19 per kilogram is still competitive compared to that of the traders, Canoy said.
Thus, local farmers still sell their palay at the NFA, he said.
Canoy also said that based on their talks with millers and traders, the volume which the latter are purchasing is no longer that big.
Their [traders] current procurement is intended more on local consumption, he said, reiterating that the agency has available fund to continuously buy local produce.