DA, NFA, rice processing centers team up to mitigate palay price plunge in Bicol

File photo from DA Bicol

PILI, Camarines Sur (Bicol Standard) – Collaborative action among the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Food Authority (NFA), and managers and operators of rice processing centers is the order of the day, as local farmers steel themselves against the plummeting price of palay.

NFA Regional Manager Edna R. de Guzman bared that their procurement budget and allocation was increased this cropping season, and that the buying price is fixed at P19.00 per kilo for clean and dried palay.

However, the NFA, according to her, does not have enough trucks to haul palay from the fields.

They also lack drying facilities and their warehouses cannot accommodate all the stocks of palay they are purchasing, she said.

Logistical support

In response to this, DA Regional Executive Director Rodel Tornilla and Regional Technical Director for Operations Luz R. Marcelino offered logistical support by means of deploying to the NFA four of its hauling trucks.

These trucks, which were assigned to its provincial research stations and the regional office, will be used for the palay procurement operations.

Of these four trucks, two will be deployed in Camarines Sur, one in Albay, one in Camarines Norte, and one in Masbate.

As for Sorsogon, the hiring of a private truck was recommended, as DA has no truck deployed in its Research Outreach Station.

Tornilla said the DA will be the one to assign the drivers and cover the traveling expenses and the expenses for gasoline on the first trip or deployment.

The DA further offered to the NFA the utilization of the available and operational postharvest machinery and facilities.

The agency will also link NFA to the DA-funded rice processing centers (RPCs) operated by cooperatives and farmers.

Adelina Losa, Chief of the Agribusiness Marketing and Assistance Division, said these RPCs could serve as the buying stations and absorb some of the palay supply from the local farmers, helping stabilize the price of palay.

Currently, there are 30 RPCs operating in the Bicol region.

Meanwhile, postharvest facilities such as flatbed dryers, recirculating dryers, and multi-purpose drying pavements can also be used by the RPC farmers, she said.

Prioritize the farmers' welfare

Tornilla has called on the operators of the RPCs and the other partners of the agency to prioritize the welfare of the rice farmers.

“We encourage them to explore ways of buying the harvest of farmers at a price higher than the prevailing buying price of private traders,” he said.

“RPCs, for their part, may complement the efforts of DA and NFA to stabilize the price of the local palay grains by making available their postharvest facilities even to farmers who are not members of their organization.”

Other recommendations for the RPCs include farm clustering, consolidation, and forging stronger linkages among agri-producers and markets.

Tornilla explained: “Collaborative efforts are urgently needed at this time because at the end of the day, we are all affected by the ups and downs of the rice industry.” (With report from Emily B. Bordado/DA-RAFIS 5)