MANILA - The Department of Agriculture (DA) said Friday it would buy palay or unmilled rice by local farmers at P19 per kilo in light of plunging farmgate price of the staple crop.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the National Food Authority (NFA) would expand its palay procurement and buy the rice harvest of farmers in their villages.
"This early, we have put in place the buying stations of NFA all over the country," he told Teleradyo's "Kabayan."
"They will buy dry and clean palay at P19 per kilo, at 14 percent moisture content," he said in Filipino.
The NFA will also help pick up the produce if farmers don't have the means to deliver it, Dar said.
The agriculture chief said they had received reports that farmgate prices of palay had plummeted to P15.
The agency will buy as much as possible from rice farmers using its P10-billion procurement fund this year, he said.
He had also instructed the NFA to roll-over twice its procurement fund so it could buy P20-billion worth of palay this year.
The DA earlier urged provincial local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to buy palay and corn directly from farmers to prop up prices.
In an earlier statement, Dar said provincial governments could avail of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) of up to P2 billion at 2 percent interest to procure palay, and acquire farm machineries and postharvest facilities.
In 2019, the country’s top 12 rice producing provinces were Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Iloilo, Camarines Sur, Tarlac, Negros Occidental, Maguindanao, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Leyte.
They produced more than 9.74 million metric tons (MMT) of palay, roughly 52 percent of the country’s total harvest of 18.815 MMT last year.