MANILA - Farmers continue to struggle as rice only sells from producers at 13.50 pesos per kilo.
"Bagsak presyo po talaga, sobrang baba ng presyo ng palay. 'Yung galing direct from harvester, P13.50 (a kilo) lang, sobrang baba. Sobrang kawawa ng farmer," Manel Palpita, a farmer from Occidental Mindoro told Teleradyo on Tuesday.
(Prices are extremely low. Direct from harvester rice sels for only 13.50 pesos per kilo.)
Farmers could opt to sell their crops for a higher price at the National Food Authority (NFA), but its strict standards for moisture content prevents them from doing so, especially during the monsoon season when it is more difficult to dry rice grains.
"'Pag sa NFA ka magbebenta, although 19 pesos [sa kanila], ang taas ng hinihingi nilang tuyo, eh tag-ulan ngayon. Nire-reject nila, kawawa ang magsasaka," Palpita said.
(NFA buys rice at 19 pesos per kilo, but they require the grain to be very dry. They reject what farmers are able to sell them.)
Palpita, who harvests rice from the towns of Rizal and San Jose, said rice grain left to dry on roads have to be covered with tarpaulins when rain comes.
She explains that more days spent drying grains will cost farmers more to pay for farmhands who tend to the drying rice grains. This will only offset the profit they might make from selling at a higher price to NFA.
"'Pag nagpabilad ka 20 pesos ang bayad sa nagbibilad. Sayang 'yun, halos 'yun din ang kikitain mo sa San Jose, kaysa NFA, ibibiyahe mo pa 'yun sa bayan, sampung piso ulit," Palpita explained.
(You have to pay the people tending to the drying grains 20 pesos. That's almost the same as what would have been your profit. Transportation also costs another 10 pesos.)
Palpita called for the NFA to ease on their standards for dried rice grain.
"Ang problema namin sa NFA, andoon lang sila sa opisina nila, hindi sila pumupunta sa mga magasaka. Sana kung makita nila napakaraming palay ng Mindoro, magaganda pa, kaya lang hindi namin maibenta," Palpita said.
(The NFA does not visit us farmers, they stay in their offices, so they don't see the quality rice grain we are able to produce in the fields.)
She also hoped that the Department of Agriculture might put budget toward lowering the prices of fertilizer, which put farmers at a deficit.
"May subsidy naman ang DA, pero P5,000, sana ilagay na lang nila sa presyo ng fertilizer, yan ang gusto ng magsasaka, para bumaba. Ang cash kasi naco-corrupt, may iba hindi naman nakakatanggap [ng subsidy]," Palipita said.
(Subsidies can be put towards lowering fertilizer prices. That would work better for farmers, because subsidies can be corrupted and end up in the wrong pockets.)