DA: P16.3-B NFA budget for 2025 to boost palay procurement, facilities

By Marita Moaje

May 18, 2024, 8:18 am

<p><em>(PNA file photo by Leilanie Adriano)</em></p>

(PNA file photo by Leilanie Adriano)

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday highlighted the National Food Authority’s (NFA) need for a PHP16.3-billion budget for 2025 to enhance palay (unhusked rice) procurement and its facilities amid the potential threats of a looming La Niña.

During a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon interview, Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa noted that the NFA has to spend about PHP9 billion to procure palay, both dry and fresh, and at the same time address the critical need for adequate drying facilities to ensure food security and stable rice prices.

Currently, he said, the NFA could dry only about 31,000 metric tons (MT) of palay, as against the 400,000 MT that they need to dry.

De Mesa said this shortfall in drying facilities poses a “considerable challenge,” especially with the imminent wet season.

“Ngayong taon ay mayroon na tayong PHP5 billion para rito sa ganitong mga klaseng pasilidad. So, kailangan natin ito talaga na dagdagan para masigurado na iyong NFA can buy – lalo na iyong mga sariwa – pagdating ng tag-ulan. Napakaimportante ng mga ganitong facilities para masigurado na hindi masisiraan ang ating farmers at hindi ma-depress iyong presyo (This year, we already have PHP5 billion for this kind of facilities, but we need to increase it to make sure that NFA can buy – especially the fresh palay – when the rainy season starts. These facilities are critical in preventing postharvest losses to our farmers and fluctuations in palay prices),” he said.

In a separate interview, NFA Administrator Larry Lacson said the agency aims to procure about 545,000 MT of palay next year.

If the requested budget is not fully approved, he said, the NFA would either decrease the procurement volume or buy palay at lower prices to adjust to the approved budget.

Currently, the NFA is implementing a higher pricing scheme in buying palay, pegged at PHP17 to PHP23 per kg. for fresh or wet palay (from the old PHP16 to PHP19 per kg.); and PHP23 to PHP30 per kg. for clean and dry palay (formerly set at PHP19 to PHP23 per kg.).

“So, definitely, kapag hindi naibigay sa amin 'yan (budget), magsu-suffer 'yung volume ng buffer stock namin (So, definitely, if the budget is not given to us, the volume of our buffer stock would suffer),” de Mesa said. (PNA)