South Cotabato to expand palay subsidy program next year

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 5 November) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is planning to expand the implementation next year of its subsidized buying scheme for palay to accommodate more local farmers.

Dr. Raul Teves, head of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, said they are currently finalizing the implementing policies of its Palay Support Program (PSP) to make it more viable and facilitate its rollout on a long-term basis.

He said they are specifically firming up the processes on the buying of palay from local farmers, milling of the purchased stocks, sale to concerned government agencies and their corresponding payment.

“This is to ensure the proper liquidation of the palay stocks that we purchased and disposed,” he said in a briefing.

For this year, the provincial government allotted some P15 million for the rollout of the PSP, increasing from the P10 million budget last year.

Through the PSP, the local government buys palay from local farmers at a subsidized price of P19 per kilo, which is P3 to P5 higher than the prevailing commercial buying prices in the area.

The priority are farmers with a palay production area of at least one hectare. The average palay production in the province is currently at 4.6 tons per hectare.

Teves said they already used up the funds released for this year and was able to purchase a total of 8,110 sacks of palay or around 734,000 kilos, benefitting some 158 farmers.

He said a total of 7,285 sacks were withdrawn by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and provincial jail, with 825 remaining on standby.

The program’s trust fund still has remaining funds but they already allotted them as repayment to its conduit Binhi-an ng Timog Kutabato Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Bintiku), he said.

“Once we get the payment for the disposed stocks, we’re expecting an additional return of P226,000 and we will use that for the palay subsidy as well,” Teves said.

South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. pushed for the initial rollout of the program last year to help local farmers cope with the sharp decline in palay commercial buying prices, which reached P12 to P13 per kilo.

The local government procured over 2,600 bags of palay last year from around 100 farmers in partnership with Bintiku. (MindaNews)