A non-governmental organization said the National Food Authority (NFA) lied when it said it was unable to buy paddy rice from local farmers because private traders bought their crop at a higher price.
Arze G. Glipo, executive director of Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF), said the NFA “deliberately rejected” the option of buying palay from local farmers as it was purportedly decided on importing rice to fill up the country’s buffer stock.
“The government can actually raise the buffer stock to 15 days, but it opted not to,” Glipo told the BusinessMirror.
She said farm-gate prices were relatively high when local farmers have not yet fully harvested all their crops.
“At first, it was really beyond the NFA’s price cap of P17,” she noted, “but now, it is reasonably lower.” Citing the Bicol region, Glipo said farmers there were selling their palay at P14 per kilogram, which was almost P5 lower than the P18.60 per kilo farm-gate price the NFA declared last Tuesday.
“Our member-farmers in Central Luzon told us they were selling their palay at P15 to P16 per kilo,” the IRDF chief added. Glipo said the NFA is defying President Duterte as it continues to insist on importing rice to beef up its buffer stock.
Earlier the NFA said it could not purchase paddy rice from farmers as private traders were buying their crop for P18 to P20 per kg, higher than its support price of P17 per kg. The NFA cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The NFA had warned that sans importation, it would be hard-pressed to meet the 30-day buffer stock requirement of the Interagency Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council during the lean months, which would kick off in July.
The food agency is also required to maintain a buffer stock equivalent to 15 days of consumption at any given time.