ENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 August) – The National Food Authority (NFA) in South Cotabato province is targeting to purchase some 168,000 bags of palay in the upcoming palay harvest season in the area that is expected to peak by next month.
Angelina Lucena, NFA-South Cotabato assistant provincial manager, said Wednesday they have started clearing their warehouses in the province in preparation for the influx of palay harvests starting September.
She said their warehouses will serve as their main buying stations for their intensified palay procurement during the harvest season.
Lucena said they have leased two additional warehouses in the rice-granary towns of Norala and Surallah to accommodate more palay harvests from the area during the harvest season, which usually extends to about three months.
She said their warehouses at the NFA provincial office in Koronadal City may accommodate 110,000 bags of palay while those located in the province’s upper valley area may store up to 70,000 bags.
South Cotabato’s upper valley area covers the palay-producing towns of Banga, Surallah, Sto. Nino, Norala, T’boli and Lake Sebu.
“We’re expecting an increase in palay production this harvest season so we will also be aggressive with our palay procurement,” she said in a media forum in Koronadal City.
Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato Agriculture Office chief, said they expect a significant increase in the volume of palay harvests in the province from late August until October.
“From the last week of August until the first half of September, we have an estimated palay harvestable area of 15,000 hectares, which is about 80 percent of our total palay production area,” he said.
From January to July this year, Legaste said the province already produced 107,331 metric tons (MT) of palay or 3.6 percent higher compared to last year’s production of 103,562 MT during the same period.
With the expected surge in palay production in the coming months, he said they expect the province to post a production surplus of 30 percent by the end of the year.
“Our production this year has been on upward trend so we’ve been closely coordinating with the NFA to increase their buying capacity and allotment for palay purchases so our farmers can avail of favorable prices,” Legaste said.
Lucena said they already increased their procurement limit per hectare in response to the rising palay harvests in the area.
From the previous 70-bag limit, she said local farmers may now sell up to 100 bags of palay per hectare to the NFA.
She said the NFA’s palay buying price remains at P17.40 per kilo for individual farmers and P17.70 per kilo for members of farmers’ associations and cooperatives.
Lucena said the agency has not set an exact allocation for its upcoming intensified palay procurement drive but assured that they have enough funds to cover for their targeted procurement volume. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)