NFA to procure P142-M palay from Negros Occidental farmers

NEGROS. NFA-Negros Occidental Provincial Manager Epifanio Cosca in an interview at his office in Bacolod City Tuesday, February 16, 2021. (Erwin P. Nicavera)
NEGROS. NFA-Negros Occidental Provincial Manager Epifanio Cosca in an interview at his office in Bacolod City Tuesday, February 16, 2021. (Erwin P. Nicavera)

THE National Food Authority (NFA) in Negros Occidental targets to procure P142 million worth of palay (unhusked rice) from farmers in the province this year, its top official said.

NFA-Negros Occidental Provincial Manager Epifanio Jun Cosca said Tuesday, February 16, that the agency has the available fund to procure up to 150,000 bags or 7,500 metric tons of palay for 2021.

Cosca, who assumed as the new head of NFA-Negros Occidental in January this year, said they are currently intensifying the palay procurement program of the agency to help local farmers amid the volatile buying prices of palay.

Under the program, local farmers can sell their clean and dry palay with 14 percent moisture content to the NFA at P19 per kilogram.

"The NFA serves as the benchmark for farmers to choose where to sell their palay," he said, adding that "we are here, ready to buy their produce once the market price among traders decreases."

NFA-Negros Occidental records showed that it has already procured about 1,000 bags of palay from local farmers since last month.

It is expecting a surge in the volume of palay sold to the NFA during the main cropping season, from August to November.

In 2020, about 144,000 bags of palay were sold to the agency in the province. The figure is higher than about 68,000 in 2019, it added.

Cosca said the bigger volume of palay procured last year was attributed to the effects of the rice tariffication law.

He explained that there has been an increase in supply, especially of imported rice, affecting local farmers as they also have more competitors.

"Once the supply increases, the demand drops," the provincial manager said, adding that with lower buying price of palay among traders last year, most local farmers opted to sell their harvests to the NFA.

The agency has been aggressive in its procurement drive to help stabilize the price of palay especially during the peak of the harvest season.

At present, the average buying price of palay among traders in the province is P16 per kilo. This is for newly-harvested palay, not yet clean and dry.

Comparing it to the NFA's P19 per kilo, there is still a margin of about P1 to P2 as the operational cost for drying is about P4 to P5 per kilo.

So, farmers currently have the tendency to sell their palay to the traders, Cosca said.

"Traders have to increase their buying prices to capture the produce of local rice farmers," he said, adding that "this is the indirect intervention of the NFA, to influence and stabilize the price of the commodity."

NFA-Negros Occidental currently utilizes its four warehouses in the cities of Bacolod and San Carlos, and Ilog town, as buying stations for palay.

These warehouses currently house about 40,000 bags of palay and 20,000 bags of rice, which account for the province's buffer stocks.

If the rice requirement of Negros Occidental will be supplied by the NFA alone, the inventory can last up to three days, Cosca said.

"Our role is now mainly focused on buffer stocking for calamities and emergencies, we no longer have the regulation function," he said, adding that though, they are still distributing old stocks in the market but only minimal in volume.


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