Nueva Ecija to buy palay; solon calls for support to farmers

By Marilyn Galang

September 1, 2019, 12:39 pm

PALAYAN CITY, Nueva Ecija -- The Nueva Ecija provincial government (NEPG) will start procuring locally-produced palay at a floor price of PHP15 a kilo which is slightly higher than prevailing price in private trading when the harvest starts this October.
This, as the NEPG puts up a PHP200-million fund for the program aimed at cushioning the impact of rice tariffication law among farmers.
Executive Order 05-s-2019 issued by Gov. Aurelio Umali on August 14, which created the provincial food council (PFC), recognizes that "agriculture is the primary industry in Nueva Ecija" thus, the province is known as the rice granary, aside from being onion capital of the Philippines.
Nueva Ecija is an important supplier of other high value agricultural commodities, it stressed.
"Whereas, to achieve sustainable food production, food security and sufficiency, stable prices and inclusive growth, it is imperative to continuously strengthen the province's agriculture industry and to address pressing challenges and constraints that may impact on the productivity and the welfare of farmers," the EO's explanatory part read.
The program was designed amid complaints from agriculture sector over the recurring low buying price of grains, which was blamed on the rice tariffication law, or Republic Act 11203.
Under the program, the provincial government will buy palay from pre-identified farmers -- those who till three hectares and below of rice lands -- to command an increase in private trading.
The grains will be milled in facilities that will be established by the council (provincial government) and sell rice to certain institutions, according to reports.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar, during his visit at various agriculture institutions in Science City of Muñoz last Thursday, described the program as "worthy of emulation."
He encouraged other local government units to follow suit.
Meanwhile, 3rd District Rep. Rosanna Vergara called on her fellow legislators to pour support to farmers as she underscored programs to help uplift agriculture sector, particularly the provision of the PHP10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
"Baguhin natin ang ‘di makatarungang sistema na pumapatay sa kanilang kabuhayan, bigyan natin ng prayoridad ang bigas na galing sa ating sariling lupa (Let us change the unjust system that is killing their livelihood. Let us give priority to the rice coming from their own lands)," Vergara said in a privilege speech.
According to the National Food Authority (NFA), the price of commercial rice in Central Luzon has slightly decreased both in retail and wholesale this year amid the enactment of the rice tariffication law.
Addressing a conference of various progressive farmers organizations here last Wednesday, NFA Region 3 Director Piolito Santos said the average retail price of regular milled rice (RMR)  in Central Luzon this year was PHP35.43 a kilo, while the well milled rice (WMR) was PHP38.93 a kilo, which are slightly lower than the PHP41.50 and PHP43.64 a kilo, respectively, in 2018.
For wholesale, RMR was placed at PHP31.75 a kilo, and WMR was PHP34.50 a kilo.
Palay (unhusked rice) however, recorded a drastic dip to PHP12.15 to PHP16.36 a kilo as of August 28, 2019 as against the PHP19.50 to PHP24.71 in August 28 last year, based on the comparative farm price presented by Santos to the farmers.
By classification, fresh palay is sold at PHP12.50; skin dry, PHP14.51; and the clean and dry at PHP16.36 far cry from last year's PHP19.50 for fresh; skin dry, PHP21.29; and clean and dry, PHP24.71.
It was also disclosed that unhusked palay is sold at the highest price in Bulacan at PHP18.25 a kilo of clean and dry, followed by Zambales, PHP18; Bataan, PHP17; Tarlac and Nueva Ecija, PHP16; Pampanga, PHP15; and lowest in Aurora at PHP14.30 a kilo. (PNA)