GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 November) – Palay buying prices in South Cotabato province and other areas of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindnao have stabilized during the past several weeks as the National Food Authority’s (NFA) intensified palay procurement drive continues to gain ground in the area.
Pangalian Busran, NFA-South Cotabato provincial manager, said Monday the prevailing palay buying prices in major trading centers in the area have so far increased to as high as P16 per kilo as local grains traders moved to level off with the agency’s subsidized palay buying scheme.
On the average, he said local palay buying prices surged by P3 to P4 per kilo since the NFA launched anew in mid-September its intensified palay procurement program for the palay harvest season in the area.
“They (palay traders) were forced to adjust their buying prices to compete with the rising palay deliveries in our buying stations,” Busran said.
The NFA opened at least four palay buying stations in Koronadal City and in the municipalities of Norala and Surallah towns in South Cotabato last September 16, in time for the peak of the palay harvest season.
Prior to the opening of the NFA buying stations, the food agency noted that palay buying prices in the area had dropped to as low as P12 per kilo due to the foreseen surge in local palay harvests.
Under its subsidized buying scheme, the NFA has been purchasing palay from members of accredited farmers’ organizations and cooperatives at P17.70 per kilogram, inclusive of drying, transport and cooperative development incentives.
The agency extended such scheme to individual farmers at a subsidized buying rate of P17.40 per kilogram.
Busran said their latest monitoring showed that local traders were buying wet palay at P13 to P14 per kilo and dry palay at P15 to P16 per kilo.
He said they expect the buying prices to remain at the current level until the projected slowdown of palay harvests in the area by next month.
As of Monday, Busran said the agency’s subsidized palay procurement program was still ongoing and assured that it will continue “as long as there are deliveries to our buying stations.”
“We have allocated enough funds for this program and we intend to accommodate all palay deliveries to our buying stations,” he said.
Busran said they have yet to update the figures regarding their ongoing palay procurement but said they are on track towards meeting its target.
NFA Region 12 earlier set its palay procurement target to 685,000 bags for the entire region.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and the cities of Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan.
The food agency designated as buying stations all its 24 operational warehouses and grains centers in the region, which have a total effective capacity of 1.8 million cavans, as to accommodate the projected rise in palay harvests in the area.
It cited that 13 of these warehouses are located within various commercial or trading centers in the region. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)