Storm threat

September 10, 2018

Nograles: Buy palay from farmers before ‘supertyphoon’ hits. Time to step up rice purchase, NFA told.

WITH Typhoon Mangkhut expected to bring heavy rains and winds as strong as 160 kph, House Appropriations Committee Chairperson Rep. Karlo “Ang Probinsyano” Nograles yesterday called on the National Food Authority (NFA) to intensify rice procurement operations so that it could buy palay from farmers before the supertyphoon hits the country.

“The NFA has not had a good track record in procuring rice from local farmers, but if there is a time for them to step up and intensify their rice procurement operations, this is it,” stressed Nograles, who reiterated his call for the NFA Council to increase the buying price of palay from the current P17 to P22 so that the NFA could compete with local rice traders.

Nograles said that with rice buffer stocks down to three days as reported by the NFA, and imported rice not expected to arrive in the country until November, “the onus is on the NFA to find and purchase additional rice stocks as soon as possible.”

The three days is far lower than the minimum 15-day buffer stock the NFA is required to maintain.

“The NFA has to try to secure as much rice locally because one, if they do not buy the palay stocks, these might be adversely affected by the coming supertyphoon. Two, if the country continues to get hit by strong typhoons, the NFA will need a healthy buffer stock to allow it to distribute rice for government relief operations in the provinces that will be affected,” explained the third-term congressman.

Nograles said he was concerned that as of July this year, the NFA only had 53,000 metric tons of rice in its warehouses, with the additional 250,000 metric tons approved by the NFA for importation still weeks away from arriving.

The solon from Davao also lamented how government appeared to prioritize importing from countries like Vietnam while ignoring calls to increase the buying price of palay so it could buy rice from local farmers in our provinces.

“The buying price of palay has remained unchanged since 2008. Since then, we have seen local palay procurement dip while rice importations keep on jumping each year. Buti pa ang magsasaka ng Vietnam, naibebenta ang kanilang produkto sa gobyerno natin, habang mga magsasaka natin dito, ang mga kapwa ko probinsyano, binabarat natin. I think P17 is an unrealistic rate, and it is high time for us to adjust it so we can buy from our own farmers.”