Manila, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered an increase in the buying price of the National Food Authority (NFA) for paddy rice (palay) despite opposition from his economic managers.
In a post on Facebook on Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol quoted the President as saying during the Cabinet meeting on Monday that the increase could boost the NFA’s buffer stock, which was wiped out earlier this month.
“He did not like a repeat of what happened recently when the country’s rice agency went low on its buffer stocks whichever led to a spike in the price of commercial rice in the market,” Piñol said.
Filipino farmers first
“Buy from the Filipino farmers first and if you could not find sufficient stocks to be bought at the price approved by the NFA Council, that’s the time you source it through importation,” Piñol quoted Mr. Duterte as saying.
At present, the NFA’s buying price for clean and dry palay is P17 per kilogram, with additional incentives of P0.20 to P0.50 per kg for delivery, P0.20 per kg for drying, and P0.30 for palay sold by farmers’ organizations and cooperatives. This is the last price adjustment since 2009.
The price is lower than prices offered by private traders to farmers, averaging P20 per kg, according to the latest price report of the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Piñol said he wanted to increase the NFA buying price by P3, which would help the agency compete with private traders. The proposal is supported by industry groups, including Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura and Bantay Bigas.
But according to Mercedita Sombilla, assistant secretary for National Economic and Development Authority and a member of the food security committee tasked to study such proposals, an increase in the NFA’s buying price would lead to “relatively huge price inflation.”