NFA-Bicol prepares for peak harvest

Even with the onset of the summer harvest season of palay this month, the National Food Authority (NFA) in Bicol expects the harvest months for the grain to peak only by April and May as farmers in some provinces devastated by typhoon Nina last December had delayed their planting and those in other low-lying areas were unable to plant at all.

Edna de Guzman, assistant regional manager for NFA-Bicol, said “advance spotters” fielded by the agency prior to the arrival of mobile palay procurement teams had reported that some farmers were already starting to harvest their palay in Malinao, Albay and in Libmanan and Cabusao towns, both in Camarines Sur.

De Guzman, in an interview late Monday afternoon, said the deployment of mobile palay procurement teams is part of the strategies of the agencies to make it easier for farmers to sell their palay to NFA and take advantage of the good buying price offered by the teams.

She said in some areas the “spotters” and mobile teams even offer sacks to the farmers that they could fill up with their palay harvest.

NFA Administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino noted in the agency’s website that mobile procurement teams are being deployed to closely coordinate with the local government units and farmers’ organizations to reach farmers even in far-flung areas.

He said it is a way of “protecting the local farmers by giving them a ready market for their palay and at the same time offer them a better return on their investments.”

In Bicol, a report of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) said there were 8,888 farmers affected and 7,221 hectares of riceland destroyed in the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes during typhoon Nina last December 25.

Among the six Bicol provinces, Camarines Sur is the region’s top rice producer and has been ranking sixth nationwide in rice production from 2014 to 2016.

De Guzman said NFA-Bicol’s average buying price for the farmers’ palay harvest is PHP18.21 per kilo, which is higher than the government support price of PHP17 per kilo. (by Gina V. Rodriguez, PNA)
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