President Duterte orders NFA to buy all locally harvested palay to address farmers’ concerns

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a press conference at the Malacañan Palace on September 4, 2019. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO


(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the National Food Authority (NFA) under the Department of Agriculture (DA) to buy all locally harvested palay (unhusked rice) to help Filipino farmers who are hit by the very low palay prices.

“What the solution should be or will be for the Secretary of Agriculture to buy all,” the President said addressing the complaints of rice farmers about the plunging palay prices

The prices of palay recently plunged to a low of P7 to P6 per kilo which is even lower than the price for “darak” (rice bran) which is normally used as swine feed.

Some farmers’ groups blamed this plunge in palay prices on the Rice Tariffication Law.

“In a democracy, officials are elected and their duty is to do for the greatest good for the greatest number. You have seen people going wild, others hungry because there is no rice,” President Duterte said in a press conference in Malacañang on Wednesday.

But the President said that farmers cannot demand a price when NFA buys their rice or palay from them.

Duterte said that both the NFA and the rice farmers should arrive at a “compromise.”

“You arrive at a compromise of how much you are willing to lose a little bit. Huwag naman ‘yang paano. Medyo tapatan lang basta hindi malugi na ano ‘yung pagod nila but they are compensated,” he said.

Local farmers claimed that the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law impacted heavily on local palay prices.

But the President said the Tariffication Law was passed to serve the greater interest of the majority of the people. The government does not waste an industry and the President said his administration is “helping an industry.”

Farmers from Ilocos and Central Luzon regions complain about low palay prices as the price of the staple dipped from P21 to P7 per kilo.

A farmer spends about P14 or P15 to produce a kilogram of palay. Darak or rice bran is produced after rice is milled.

Present prices of darak are at P12 per kilo.