Farming entrepreneurs asked govt to allocate budget for palay buying in Central Luzon
May 28, 2019
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Farmer-entrepreneurs have asked government to allocate budget for the purchase of palay in Central Luzon as it is the farmers that have extended credit to DA for a buyer’s credit, rather than government lending to farmers.
Rather than the Department of Agriculture (DA) lending to farmers, it is farmers from the Federation of Central Luzon Farmers Cooperative (FCLFC) that have extended supply credit to government because DA’s National Food Authority (NFA) apparently does not have the budget for buying already sold palay (husked rice).
In a letter to DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Pinol last May 20, FCLFC asked for an adequate and uninterrupted funding for NFA.
“Magalang po naming hinihiling sa inyong tanggapan na mapagkalooban ng sapat at tuloy tuloy na pondo ang NFA Bulacan . (We kindly request you to grant sufficient and continuous funding for NFA Bulacan),” said FCLFC Chairman Simeon T. Sioson.
NFA has owed farmers for the purchased palay even before the May 13 national elections.
Sioson also said in a forum led by Philippine Chamber of Agriculture & Food Inc (PCAFI) President DAnilo V. Fausto that farmers are already losing significantly from the decline in palay price since the ratification of the Rice Tariffication Act (RTA).
Palay’s farmgate price in some parts of Central Luzon had already dropped to P11 to P13 or even P10 per kilo since RTA, Sioson said.
This brings farmers a loss of P5 to per kilo from the price of P18-P19 per kilo prior to RTA passage.
Fausto said that with the RTA’s Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), government should be able to strengthen credit to farmers – meeting whatever financing need to help them upgrade into becoming entrepreneurs.
PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto
RCEF allocates P1 billion yearly for six years for a credit program to farmers called “Expanded Rice Credit Assistance” (ERCA).
ERCA fund will be equally managed by Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines.
It bears “minimal interest and with minimum collateral requirements.”
Fausto said the credit should be an integrated facility not only for financing rice farming, but agriculture-related activities that will raise farmers’ income and add value to their produce. It should include financing for livestock, poultry, and farming of fruits and vegetables.
In boosting credit supply to the agriculture sector in order to maximize its contribution to economic development,
Fausto said PCAFI is also urging government to strengthen implementation of the Bangko Sentral ng PIlipinas’s Agricultural Value Chain Financing (AVCF) Program.
Sioson said Central Luzon farmers are experiencing difficulty selling their entire rice produce to NFA.
“Nung ang bigas nasa 14.4 % moisture content, nireject nila kasi i-dry muna raw. Nung ibinalik namin at less than 10% ang moisture content, ni reject rin kasi overdried raw. (NFA rejected our rice (unhusked rice) when it was at 14.4% moisture content. So we dried it first. But when we returned at less than 10% moisture content, NFA also rejected it saying it’s overdried,” said Simeon.
Ironically NFA traditionally imports rice from Thailand and Vietnam whose quality has been mired with controversy due to pests (bukbok) infecting the imported rice due to their old stock nature.
“Ano ba kaibahan ng bigas na may bukbok na inisprayan ng insecticide na ini-import ng NFA dun sa mga palay ng magsasaka na di raw katanggap-tanggap. Kahit lugi kami ng P5 sa palay ok lang, pero bukbok at overdried, that’s unfair.”
(What’s the difference between NFA’s imported, pest-laden, and insecticide-sprayed rice from the rice produce of Filipino farmers that are said to be unacceptable? Even if we lose P5 per kilo from farmgate, that’s just ok. But to say that our rice should be rejected because it’s overdried, that’s unfair.).
Roger Navarro of the Phil. Maize Federation Inc during the PCAFI meeting that the same rejection in post harvest-related activities in corn has been experienced by farmers with NFA.
“NFA should rather adjust pricing, whether it’s at 14% moisture content or should compensate farmers with any equitable pay for drying instead of asking farmers to return their produce home,” said Navarro.
“Since NFA has its own drying facility, it should rather dry the ones with higher moisture so farmers will already be assisted in the sale of the grain.”(Growth Publishing for PCAFI)