BACOLOD CITY – The Negros Occidental provincial government’s Rice Processing Center in Bago City is providing farmers free space to dry their fresh palay (unhusked rice) to enable them to sell their produce to the National Food Authority (NFA).
The assistance is among the programs being initiated by local governments in Western Visayas to help facilitate continuous and smooth procurement transactions of farmers with the grains agency.
As of Wednesday, Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said the province is initiating measures to help Negrense farmers cope with the plunging prices of palay.
He added that the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist is working out an arrangement with the NFA after the agency asked to allow provincial government vehicles to transport the procured palay from the farmers for delivery to its warehouses or buying stations.
The NFA requires farmers to have their palay dried before delivering these to the warehouses since not all NFA buying stations have drying facilities, but in warehouses with solar dryers, farmers can avail of the palay drying service for free.
Earlier, the NFA in Western Visayas (NFA-6) said that it opened 27 palay buying stations and warehouses to provide rice farmers the right compensation for their labor and high production costs as prices have dropped up to only PHP10 a kilo in some parts of the region.
Regional manager Dianne Silva urged farmers to sell their produce to the NFA to build up adequate buffer stocks as the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) continues and aggressively procure supply to help stabilize prices at the peak of the harvest season.
Farmers can sell their clean and dry palay with 14 percent moisture content to the NFA at PHP19 per kilogram.
“More than 1 million bags of palay that we purchased in 2019 had significantly helped the relief operations of the government agencies when lockdown happened due to the pandemic,” Silva said.
In September, Western Visayas ranked second next to Cagayan Valley Region in terms of palay procurement.
Silva said the NFA-6 was able to buy 369,478 bags of palay, which is higher by more than 180 percent compared to its target for the month.
These included the palay procured in Aklan totaling to 23,376 bags; Antique, 20,987 bags; Capiz, 63,268 bags; Iloilo and Guimaras, 241,815 bags; and Negros Occidental, 20,041 bags. (PNA)