DA urges LGUs, private sector anew to buy palay, corn directly from local farmers

Robie de Guzman   •   October 1, 2020   •   206

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday renewed its appeal to local government units (LGU) and the private sector to buy palay and corn directly from farmers to prop up prices as harvest season peaks.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said LGUs and the grains industry stakeholders will have to “step in” and purchase directly through negotiated contracts with the farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCA) since the National Food Authority’s (NFA) palay procurement is limited to buffer stocking for calamities and emergencies

“The LGU- and private sector-led palay and corn buying will complement efforts of the Department of Agriculture through the National Food Authority to buy as much as possible from rice farmers using its 2020 P10-billion procurement fund,” Dar said.

“This should be part of the ‘new normal,’ where LGUs are taking a more pro-active stance by directly buying farmers’ produce — be these rice, corn, vegetables, chicken, eggs, fish and other farm and fishery products — at reasonable prices, and then including them in their food packs for their constituents,” he added.

The Agriculture chief said the NFA has also been directed to “roll-over twice its procurement fund so it could buy P20 billion-worth of palay this year.”

Further, he said provincial governments can avail of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) of up to P2 billion at two percent interest to procure palay, and acquire farm machineries and postharvest facilities.

This harvest season, the DA said it wrote the governors of the top 12 rice-producing provinces to once again buy palay from their farmers.

The DA chief likewise called on the private sector, particularly those in the grains industry, to engage in long-term contract-growing and marketing agreement with farmers’ groups to buy rice for their employees and clientele as part of their corporate social responsibility.

Dar also asked the NFA to make available its warehouses for use by farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) and LGUs.

“We will accelerate the modernization of the NFA’s drying and milling facilities so they could provide much-needed services for the benefit of our rice farmers,” he added.

DA sees manipulation in pork supply leading to surge in prices

Marje Pelayo   •   October 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The recent spike in prices of pork meat in local markets has led the Department of Agriculture (DA) to believe that the supply of pork in the country is being manipulated.

In major public markets in Metro Manila such as Guadalupe, Commonwealth, Las Piñas and Pasig City, the price of pork is almost the same as the price of beef.

The price of beef in said market ranges from P300 to P350 per kilogram while the price of pork ranges from P290 to P360 per kilogram.

But in the markets of Pasay, Marikina, Mega Q-mart and Muñoz in Quezon City, the price of pork is even higher than beef

Agriculture Secretary William Dar noted that the current supply of frozen pork in Metro Manila is 55 percent higher compared with the same period last year.

“Meron tayong tinitingnan na mina manipulate nila ang paglabas ng frozen pork, kasi meron naman, nandyan na sa mga cold storages natin (We are looking at the possibility of manipulation in the release of frozen pork, because there is supply just sitting in cold storages),” the official said.

Dar said the DA cannot specify yet who among the suppliers are doing the manipulation but they have set a meeting with them to discuss the matter.

“Iyong may mga cold storages imi-meeting namin agad at makikiusap tayo na ilabas nila, ibenta nila yung nasa cold storage nila (We are set to meet with the owners of cold storages and we will ask them to release and to sell the supplies in their cold storages),” Dar said.

Dar also noted that the African Swine Fever (ASF) has affected the country’s pork supply. The agency is currently helping hog raisers from Visayas and Mindanao in bringing their supply to Metro Manila.

At present, thousands of pigs in a total of 25 provinces in the country have alrady been affected by ASF.

To date, there is still no effective cure or vaccine for ASF, thus the DA is asking for the cooperation of the public to help stop the spread of the deadly swine disease.

Dar said the country has enough supply of chicken which can be an alternative to pork.

“Iyong kakulangan ng pork pwede namang punuan galing sa chicken (Chicken meat can fill the pork supply gap),” Secretary Dar said. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Farmers, fishers to receive cash, food aid from excess rice tariffs under Bayanihan 2

Marje Pelayo   •   October 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — In succeeding months, small rice farmers will receive cash assistance sourced from “excess rice tariff” under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Likewise, fisherfolk and corn, coconut and sugar farmers as well as indigenous peoples (IPs) will receive cash and food assistance. 

Currently, the DA is finalizing the mechanics of the two forms of assistance to millions of small farmers and fisherfolk.

This is in accordance with a resolution approved and adopted by the Senate committee on agriculture and food during the virtual deliberations of the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA), on October 16, 2020.

Agriculture secretary William Dar said the cash assistance will benefit farmers adversely impacted by the  depressed prices of palay this season.

The Senate Joint Resolution No. 12 authorizes the use of the tariffs on imported rice in excess of P10 billion collected by the Bureau of Customs for 2020 under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

Secretary Dar said that the initial estimate of the excess rice tariffs in 2019 and this year may amount to P5B.

The said amount as stated in the Joint Senate resolution will be used as cash assistance worth P5,000 to benefit small rice farmers, tilling one hectare or less.

To qualify, farmer-beneficiaries should be listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).

Secretary Dar added that this time, other non-rice farmers will also receive P5,000-worth of cash and food assistance under the DA’s P4.5-billion budget allocation, also under Bayanihan 2.

The DA chief said of the P5,000-assistance, P3,000 will be in cash, while the P2,000 will be in kind, at P1,000 for rice and the other P1,000 for chicken and eggs.

Based on the DA’s initial program mechanics, the rice, chicken and eggs will be withdrawn by the beneficiaries using an e-voucher system. 

Qualified recipients will be issued an ID cum voucher.

“Through this mechanism, we are lifting once again our local rice industry that has been affected by the decline in palay prices, and poultry raisers who were affected by a glut due to shut down of businesses due to the pandemic,” secretary Dar said.

Mababang presyo ng palay dahil sa rice tariffication law, itinanggi ng DA

Robie de Guzman   •   October 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Mariing pinabulaanan ng Department of Agriculture ang alegasyon ng ilang grupo ng mga magsasaka hinggil sa umano’y pagbaba ng presyo ng palay dahil sa ipinatutupad na Rice Tariffication Law.

Una nang nanawagan ang grupong Federation of Free Farmers sa Kongreso na imbestigahan ang pagpapatupad ng Rice Tariffication Law dahil sa naging epekto nito sa presyuhan ng palay.

Ayon sa grupo, bumaba sa P11 hanggang P13  kada kilo ang presyo ng basang palay habang nasa P14 hanggang P17 naman ang halaga ng tuyong palay.

Anila, ito ay dahil umano sa hindi kontroladong importasyon ng bigas at walang kasiguruhan sa polisiya ng kagawaran.

Ngunit ayon kay Agriculture Secretary William Dar, walang katotohanan at  ‘exaggerated’ lang ang alegasyon ng ilang grupo at ilang dating opisyal ng kagawaran.

Aniya, paraan lang ito upang maisulong ang kanilang panukalang amiyendahan ang mga probisyon ng rice tariffication law.

“The interest groups, along with former DA officials, have exaggerated data on palay to push for the amendment or repeal of the RTL (rice tariffication law). They are resurrecting old arguments against RTL,” ang wika ni Dar.

Batay aniya sa survey ng Philippine Rice Information System (PRISM) na isinagawa mula Setyembre 16-30, 2020, nasa P18 kada kilo ang average na presyo ng palay sa Central Luzon habang P19 naman sa Cagayan Valley.

Ang dalawang rehiyon ang nangunguna sa produksyon ng palay sa bansa na katumbas ng 31.5 percent ng total harvest noong 2019.

Sa ulat naman ng Philippine Statistics Authoroty, lumalabas na nasa P17.12 kada kilo naman ang farmgate price ng palay sa huling dalawang linggo ng Setyembre – mas mataas kumpara sa P16.18 kada kilo na presyo sa kaparehong panahon noong 2019.

Ayon kay Dar, ang mga nasabing survey ay nagpapakita lamang ng totoong presyo ng palay na taliwas sa sinasabi ng ilang grupo.

“Makikita dito na hindi nagkakalayo ang data na ginagamit ng gobyerno, and definitely the reality is, hindi kasing baba ang presyo ng palay as interest groups claim on social media,” ang wika ni Dar.

Tiniyak naman ni Dar na nakahanda ang National Food Authority na bilhin ang palay na ibinibenta ng mga magsasaka sa halagang P19 kada kilo na nasa mga bodega at buying stations sa bansa. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

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