MANILA - The Department of Agriculture said Thursday provincial local government units and the private sector should buy palay and other farm produce such as corn from farmers to boost prices.
The LGUs and the private sector will have to "step in" and purchase directly through negotiated contracts since the National Food Authority's (NFA) palay procurement is limited to buffer stock, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement.
“The LGU- and private sector-led palay and corn buying will complement efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA) through the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy as much as possible from rice farmers using its 2020 P10-billion procurement fund,” Dar said.
“This should be part of the ‘new normal,’ where LGUs are taking a more proactive stance by directly buying farmers’ produce — be these rice, corn, vegetables, chicken, eggs, fish and other farm and fishery products — at reasonable prices, and then including them in their food packs for their constituents,” he added.
Dar said the agency has also instructed the National Food Authority to roll-over twice its procurement fund so it could buy P20 billion-worth of palay this year.
Provincial governments can avail of up to P2 million from the Land Bank of the Philippines at 2 percent interest to procure palay, or acquire farm machines, he said.
The DA said it has written to the governors of the top 12 rice-producing provinces to "once again buy palay from their farmers."
The private sector, meanwhile, should engage in long-term contracts with farmers as part of their corporate social responsibility, the DA said.
The DA also ordered the NFA to make warehouses available for the use of farmers' cooperatives and associations, Dar said, as he pushed for the acceleration of the modernization of the NFA's drying and milling facilities.
In 2019, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Iloilo, Camarines Sur, Tarlac, Negros Occidental, Maguindanao, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Leyte were the top rice producing provinces in the Philippines.