MANILA -- As palay prices plunge, the Department of Agriculture on Sunday said it has put into place measures that would assist farmers, which includes a P15,000 loan payable in 8 years with no interest.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar made the announcement as farmers asked for cash assistance amid imports flooding the market, forcing them to sell palay at P17 per kilo, down from P21 per kilo last year.
Dar said the loan program will roll out on Monday in Nueva Ecija, for farmers who till 1 hectare of land and below.
"Para after ng season na ito makapagtanim na sila or they can use that for whatever basic requirements they have," he told radio DZMM.
The agriculture chief added that the department is eyeing to lower the National Food Authority's buying price of palay to P17 from the current P20.70 so it could buy more with its P7-billion fund.
The NFA last year increased its buying price for palay amid the rice crisis.
Dar said he has also ordered the NFA to follow an "accelerated rollover scheme."
"You buy palay, mill that, and you sell right away, ganun po para 'yung pera ay iikot para mas marami silang mabili na palay. 'Wag imbakin sa warehouses, ilabas po nila agad," he said.
Dar said the agency has also urged provincial governments to buy palay and engage in agricultural enterprises and received positive feedback from at least 6 provinces: Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan.
"Ang pakiusap ko po puwede ba ang provincial governments ay bibili na rin ng mga palay sa probinsiya ninyo. Wery positive po ang response nitong 6 na probinsiya. Ang Isabela model natin, bumibili na sila dati pa," he said.