HOUSE Appropriations Committee Chairperson Rep. Karlo “Ang Probinsyano” Nograles on Wednesday welcomed moves by the National Food Authority (NFA) Council to improve its local palay procurement efforts, saying that its plans to provide incentives to rice farmers effectively raising the buying price of palay to 20 pesos a kilo would allow it to purchase palay from local farmers and shore up stocks of NFA rice.
At the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum, Nograles—who had earlier called on the NFA Council to raise the buying price of palay to 22 pesos per kilo—said he was happy that the NFA was now more receptive to the proposal.
“Natutuwa ako na somehow nagaadjust naman ang NFA Council. Bagamat hindi nila inakyat ang buying price ng palay, ang sabi po nila dinagdagan po nila ang insentibo para sa magsasaka,” said the solon from Davao.
(I am happy that the NFA Council is somehow adjusting. While they have not increased the buying price of palay, they have added incentives for farmers.)
Nograles was referring to the announcement of Agriculture Secretary and NFA Council Chairman Emmanuel Piñol, who on Monday revealed that the NFA Council had approved the provision of incentives to rice farmers selling their palay to the government.
“The buying price of NFA remains at 17 pesos per kilo, but we will come up with incentives that when quantified would reach 20 pesos per kilo,” Piñol said in a news briefing following his first meeting with the NFA Council.
Piñol announced that the NFA would give transportation incentives to farmers who would sell their crops to the government. They will likewise be entitled to receive farm equipment, among others.
These developments are proof, Nograles said, that President Rodrigo Duterte made the right move by giving jurisdiction of the NFA to the DA via Executive Order No. 62.
Signed on September 17, EO 62 also reorganizes the NFA Council, designating the Secretary of Agriculture as NFA Chairman.
“I’m very happy that DA is back in the NFA council. I think there was a disconnect before nung hindi naisama ang Department of Agriculture sa NFA council,” said Nograles.
“Ako po’y sang-ayon na ibinalik na po sa DA ang NFA para mas matutukan na ang pangangailangan ng ating mga magsasaka. Marami pong mga pangangailangan ang ating mga magsasaka at kasama po ang NFA sa pagbibigay ng suporta sa mga magsasaka natin,” he added.
(I agree that the NFA should be returned to the DA so that the needs of farmers can be addressed. Our farmers have many needs, and the NFA is one of the agencies involved in providing support to our farmers.)
While Nograles lauded the additional incentives given to rice farmers, he reiterated his recommendation for the NFA Council to increase the buying price of palay to 22 pesos per kilo.
“Ang ating patuloy na panawagan sa NFA council ay itaas po ang buying price to 22 pesos, para sa ganun ay mas matutulungan pa natin ang ating mga farmers,” he said.
(I continue to call on the NFA to raise the buying price to 22 pesos, so we can better help our farmers.)
“For most Filipinos, rice is life, ang bigas ay buhay, so we must always ensure that rice is available, affordable and accessible,” the lawmaker stressed.