MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has launched an investigation on the sudden drop in the price of palay in the provinces.
Newly harvested palay are reportedly being sold at Php9 to Php19 only; while dried palay are for sale for about Php12 to Php23.
According to Nueva Ecija 1st District Representative Estrellita Suansing, the very low price of palay is severely affecting the farmers.
“The buying price of palay continues to drop and it is making it hard for our farmers to recover from the production cost,” said Suansing.
Some groups are pointing at the Rice Tarrification Law as the cause for the losses that farmers are incurring.
The said law paved the way for fewer restrictions on rice importation.
Sorsogon 1st District Representative Evelina Escudero said due to the low price of palay, farmers resort to selling their freshly harvests to rice traders instead of the government.
“I’ve seen that farmers are not selling their palay to the Department of Agriculture or the NFA [National Food Authority] but to rice traders, so medyo hindi tama yun,” Escudero said.
The NFA, on the other hand, insisted that they buy directly from the farmers.
“Ang ating procurement period ay depende kung kailan pwede ng maani ang ating mga palay. Hindi naman po sabay sabay ang pagtatanim ng ating mga farmers,” said NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal.
Dansal said the agency has only around Php1 billion left in their fund of Php7 billion from buying locally produced palay.
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), meanwhile, said that rice importation should not be blamed for the drop in prices of palay.
NEDA Director Nieva Natural said local farmers lack the equipment and technology and these play a big role in their revenue loss.
“We think that the low palay price experienced in some areas is primarily due to lack of bargaining power of farmers,” Natural said.
Under the Rice Tarrification Law, a Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund of Php10 billion was allocated to support the farmers. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)