Farmers need more active NFA palay purchase, deferred debt payment, increased tariffs, dryers –Kiko
Restrictions to importations, increased tariffs, post-harvest facilities, and keener palay procurement from the National Food Authority (NFA). These are what local farmers need, said Sen Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan after the after public consultations in Central Luzon and Cebu.
“They want the NFA to be keen in buying palay so more farmers could benefit from. They are asking for post-harvest facilities like dryers,” said Pangilinan, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.
“Without dryers, they are not able to sell their wet palay at higher prices. They lose a lot due to lack of facilities,” Pangilinan said.
“They are also asking for deferment in their loans while the prices of palay are low. All these, we will personally relay to Secretary William Dar in a meeting,” he added.
The farmers gave their suggestions during a public consultation on the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Sagip Saka Act of 2019 in Nueva Ecija and Pampanga last Friday.
The local economy in Central Luzon, dubbed the rice granary of the Philippines, has been badly hit by the dampening effects of the Rice Tariffication Law. Billions of pesos are being taken away from Filipino farmers as the influx of imported rice caused the selling price of local rice produce to drop to as low as 7 pesos per kilo, or 5 pesos lower than the production cost of 12 pesos per kilo, Pangilinan said.
Earlier, the senator delivered a privilege speech on the plight of rice farmers and filed a joint resolution to fast-track several measures on how to curb the debilitating effects of the law.
Senate Joint Resolution No. 2 aims to release 13 billion pesos from the fund balance of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the unprogrammed appropriations of the 2019 national budget and the collected tariffs from rice importation as direct emergency cash assistance for rice farmers.
“What they are asking for is actual cash assistance because they lost a huge amount this year. More or less P60-P70 billion were lost because of the price decline.” Pangilinan said.
The Department of Agriculture finished its Sagip Saka consultations in the cities of Cebu, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, and San Fernando in Pampanga last week. Pangilinan attended the consultations in Cebu and San Fernando cities.
Sagip Saka Act of 2019 aims to link farmers directly to the market of national government agencies, local government units, and big companies like fast-food chains so they are able to see their produce directly, without the intervention of a trader of a middleman.
“Sagip Saka is a template to making farming successful. Hopefully by December we can roll out Sagip Saka and get a number of local and national government agencies on board to be able to implement the law. Sagip Saka is a culmination of my experience as a farmer and policymaker,” Pangilinan said.