DA-NFA NorMin, PLGU Lanao Norte converge efforts to aid rice farmers in commanding better prices for their produce.
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – In Northern Mindanao, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) are pushing for competitive palay buying price following reports of dipping farmgate prices.
Due to peak harvest season, palay prices plunged to as low as P12 per kilo for fresh weight in October, based on DA-10’s palay price monitoring report in the different provinces in Region 10.
The provinces of Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte sell dry palay while Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, and Camiguin sell fresh palay.
As the price lowers, NFA 10 assures rice farmers in the region of its continuing effort to purchase their palay at a higher, profitable price.
“We are buying dried and clean palay at P19 per kilo. The price is set based on a standard P12 per kilo for production capital. Minus all postharvest costs, the farmers can earn an estimated P6 per kilo net income if they sell their palay to us,” said NFA 10 Regional Director, Engr. John Robert R. Hermano.
He added, since October they have procured roughly 300 thousand sacks of palay regionwide. By the end of November, they anticipated the figure to be at 500 thousand sacks.
Currently, NFA allocates an average of P48 million weekly funds to procure palay in the region depending on the agency’s target procurement per week.
NFA can absorb 8-10% of the region’s palay production, which is equivalent to 560 thousand to 700 thousand bags, considering the region is producing 7 million bags of palay per production cycle.
“We have no problems with funds. We can always accommodate farmers that intend to sell their palay to us,” he added.
Aside from regular palay farmgate price monitoring, NFA deployed mobile procurement teams to penetrate far-flung rice areas and non-traditional palay sources in the region.
The agency’s effort is highly concentrated on areas where palay prices are low.
“One of the reasons why our farmers cannot sell their palay at a higher price is because we are short of drying facilities. Wet palay are sold cheaper. That is why we are proposing for the establishment of two more drying facilities in Lanao del Norte and another two in Bukidnon,” Hermano disclosed.
In the meantime, NFA welcomes farmers who wish to use their drying pavements to dry their produce.
He vouched for every farmer who will seek NFA’s assistance will be accommodated and treated fairly.
“We highly encourage our farmers to sell their palay to us. Not only their palay will be bought at a higher price, but they can also contribute to the region’s food security, as well,” Hermano remarked.
NFA is guided by its minimum palay buying specifications of 14% moisture content, 13% discolored and damage kernel, and 90% purity, in assessing farmers’ palay quality.
PLGU Lanao Norte’s initiative
According to Hubaib Cayongcat, Lanao del Norte’s Provincial Grains Processing Center’s (PGPC) manager, amid plunging palay price, the provincial government is reaching out to the farmers by buying their palay at a standard of P1-2 pesos higher than local palay traders’ price.
“By buying the farmers’ harvest at a higher price, we can directly and indirectly help our rice farmers by compelling traders to catch up with PGPC’s price,” Cayongcat said, explaining the local government’s strategy in keeping the palay price advantageous to the rice farmers.
He added, the facility (PGPC) is born of the local government’s intent to help the rice farmers in the province by mitigating a decent palay buying price.
The PGPC has been operational since 2012. In cooperation with the Provincial Agriculture’s Office of Lanao del Norte, the facility has bought 516.7 metric tons of palay from farmers in the province in 2019.
“With this facility, we were able to somehow free our farmers from being tied to traders-decided palay price,” Coyongcat accounted.
He also shared, they are planning to establish a mechanical drying facility in the future which will help their farmers improve the quality of their palay, especially during the rainy season.
“The PGPC will always find ways and stick to its objective in helping our farmers in Lanao del Norte,” he vowed.
DA-10’s resolve to address plunging palay price
On the other hand, DA-10 through its Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) is closely monitoring the palay price situation in the region.
According to Carlota S. Madriaga, DA-10’s Regional Technical Director for Operations, the agency is on top of the situation and is primed to provide the needed technical and bureaucratic interventions and assistance to local government units (LGUs) and the farming sectors should the scenario snowballs.
“Keeping the palay price high and competitive requires the concerted effort of all concerned sectors. Government agencies, the LGUs, and the farmer organizations should reach out to each other to come up with a cohesive action plan,” said Madriaga.
She also cited the “big brother-small brother” marketing strategy to help farmers command a better market prices for their products.
According to her, through the big brother-small brother strategy, rice farmers cooperatives, associations in an area will be clustered, where one association will lead the converged groups (as a big brother) to consolidate farm products of other allied associations (small brothers) for bulk selling to potential buyers, thus enabling them to profitably market their produce.
The said strategy will be widely implemented in the region as DA-10 will put in full swing the Farm and Fisheries Clustering and Consolidation (F2C2) Program next year.
“With the pandemic adversely affecting our agriculture sector, we are appealing to our private partners, the agri traders to help our farmers by buying their produce be it palay, corn and other produce at a higher price. Our farmers need our help more than ever this time,” she concluded. # (Azbie Talib)