MANILA -- While the peak of harvest season is still to come, the National Food Authority (NFA) continues to aggressively buy palay from local farmers with the total palay procurement reaching 232,447 bags in the first two months of 2019.

With that volume, NFA OIC Administrator Tomas Escarez said that the agency has already surpassed its 2018 procurement accomplishment by 2,100 percent. NFA was able to buy only 10,960 bags during the same period last year.

“The NFA procurement activities are obviously revitalized by the agency’s new buying price, increased from PHP17.70 to PHP20.70 per kg for clean and dry palay. More farmers are selling their harvest to NFA after the NFA Council approved the additional PHP3 per kilogram Buffer Stocking Incentive (BSI) last October 2018,” Escarez said.

Based on the reports of different field offices, palay procurement were highest in the following provinces: North Cotabato -- 59,734; Sultan Kudarat -- 52,045; Tarlac -- 14,376; Oriental Mindoro -- 13,433; South Cotabato -- 11,204; Isabela -- 10,965; Capiz - 10,659; and Occidental Mindoro -- 9,591.

“We want to recognize the continuing efforts of our officers and staff in the field. Despite the fact that it is not a peak procurement month, they were still able to serve our farmers. In particular, our office in Region 12 covering the provinces of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and South Cotabato exceeded their target by 6,149 percent. NFA was able to procure 122,983 bags of palay from the three provinces alone,” Escarez said.

Based on the trend in NFA’s procurement, Escarez said that palay harvests are no longer confined to the traditional summer crop from March to May and main harvest from October to December.

Escarez added that the NFA must now be ready for palay procurement all year-round. All personnel, logistics and procurement funds will be made available anywhere in the country where the NFA operates, at any given time.

“With the implementation of the Rice Trade Liberalization Law signed by the President last February 14, NFA is expected to have a higher market participation now in palay procurement as farmers will also take advantage of the bigger incentives offered by the government,” Escarez said.

NFA targets to buy at least 7,780,000 bags of palay from local farmers during the year. (NFA PR)