By Connie Calipay 

LEGAZPI CITY – The National Food Authority (NFA) 5 (Bicol) has assured farmers in the region that it has sufficient funds to buy their palay (unhusked rice) harvest.

In an interview on Thursday, Jaharah Shyrra Pavilando, NFA-5 information officer, said the agency has allocated PHP26.5 million for the region’s palay procurement program, which will be replenished as needed.

“We have a cereal procurement fund ready to buy our local farmers’ harvest. We have a rice-sufficient inventory of 30,179 bags and a palay inventory of 22,389 bags stored in different warehouses in the Bicol Region. We are expecting an increase in our palay inventory since we have ongoing procurement with local farmers during the peak harvest season from October to December this year. These buffer stocks are good for 15 days for the region’s rice needs,” Pavilando said.

She recalled that the NFA increased last week the buying price for dry palay from PHP19 to PHP23 and wet palay from PHP16 to PHP19.

“Aside from the PHP23 and PHP19 buying price of palay per kilo, those towns and cities with a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with us under the Palay Marketing Assistance Program for Legislators and Local Government Units (PALLGU) program will get additional increase. For example, in the province of Camarines Norte, an additional PHP5 per kilogram will be included, so instead of PHP23 per kilo it will be PHP28 per kilo,” she said.

The additional amount in other LGUs with a PALLGU agreement with NFA are Malinao (Albay) — PHP2.50 per kg.; Barcelona (Sorsogon) — PHP3 per kg.; and Matnog (Sorsogon) – PHP1 per kg.

Pavilando also explained that the passage of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law removed the agency’s mandate on price stabilization.

“The new mandate of NFA at present is to maintain sufficient rice stocks to be sourced solely from local farmers. Pag marami ang influx of palay, makikita ng mga rice traders na sufficient ang stocks ng palay at rice sa NFA, baba na din po ang presyo niyan (When there is a large influx of palay, rice traders will see that stocks of palay and rice in the NFA are sufficient, and the price will also go down),” she said.

Based on NFA records, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, and Albay have the biggest volume of procured palay in the region this month.

“Every farmer can sell up to 700 bags of palay with 50 kilograms per bag,” Pavilando said.

NFA-5 encourages farmers to sell their palay produce to NFA to add to the nation’s buffer stock, especially during times of calamities and emergencies. (PNA)