GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews /27 Nov) – The provincial government of South Cotabato plans to inject around P10 million into the National Food Authority’s (NFA) palay procurement budget for the province next year in a bid to protect farmers from unstable trading prices in the local markets.
Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato provincial agriculturist, said the move is part of the local government’s continuing implementation of the NFA’s Palay Assistance for Legislators and Local Governments Units (PALLGU) program in the area.
He said the program mainly helps stabilize the buying prices of palay within the province, especially during the harvest season.
“The (augmentation) fund will allow the NFA to increase its buying price for palay in case the commercial trading prices will go down,” Legaste said.
Under the program, the NFA raises its palay buying prices to provide farmers with a viable marketing alternative and at the same time beef up further the agency’s palay stocks.
In the past, the agency offered additional subsidies of P1.50 to P2.50 per kilogram for palay stocks that were purchased under the PALLGU program.
The NFA presently buys palay at P17 per kilo and with an additional incentive of 70 centavos for members of farmers’ groups, 20 centavos as delivery fee and 20 centavos drying fee for individual farmers.
Legaste said the local government later recoups its PALLGU investments by milling the purchased palay stocks and selling them to the local markets.
“We’ll not be wasting money here because the program includes a scheme wherein the participating local governments will recover their investments later on,” he said.
Based on their initial discussions with NFA provincial officials, Legaste said they intend to implement the program during the peak of the palay harvest season.
He said commercial or private palay traders in the area usually lower their buying prices during the harvest season.
“This will prevent our private traders from controlling the buying prices of palay and eventually the market prices of rice,” Legaste said.
He added that they are currently finalizing the details of the program’s implementation in the area next year as endorsed by the NFA provincial and regional offices. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)